Professor Jenny Gill (School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia)
Dr Rob Robinson (British Trust for Ornithology)
Dr Cat Morrison (School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia)
Many species of Afro-Palaearctic migrants have declined severely in recent decades. Declines have been strongest in species travelling to the humid tropics of sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that environmental changes in that region may be driving them. However, recent research shows substantial fine-scale variation in population trends, productivity and survival of migrant and resident species on breeding sites across Europe. Furthermore, site-level population trends and mean productivity of residents and sub-Saharan migrants are strongly positively correlated, suggesting that conditions at breeding sites (where migrants and residents co-occur) contribute strongly to migrant population trends. The causes of spatial variation in population trends and productivity are not yet known.
This project aims to identify landscape and environmental factors influencing local trends in abundance and productivity, in order to help guide the development of conservation actions to reverse ongoing population declines. Combining analyses of long-term monitoring data and targeted field studies, the study will address the following objectives:
1. Identify sites at which trends in abundance and productivity of migrants and resident species are either declining or stable/increasing and, for selected target species, sites that have and have not retained local breeding populations.
2. Quantify the landscape structure and environmental characteristics (particularly for features relevant to conservation management) of these sites, using combinations of remote sensing data and field surveys.
3. Construct models to explore the potential demographic impact of changes in landscape structure and environmental conditions that could result from differing types of local conservation action and management
The successful candidate will receive extensive training in the application of ecological principles and concepts to applied issues, including modelling demographic and population consequences of environmental change; exploration and analysis of large-scale, long-term datasets; field data collection skills and techniques, identification and quantification of environmental features relevant to conservation management; and is expected to achieve a high level of competency in statistical modelling.
Candidates will have a degree in biology, ecology, environmental sciences or related subject. Experience of undertaking biodiversity surveys, handling large datasets and familiarity with computer packages such as R and GIS will be an advantage.