Dr Nick Isaac, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)
Prof Richard Griffiths, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent; Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE)
Dr Bjorn Beckmann, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Dr Angela Julian, Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK)
Dr John Wilkinson, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC Trust)
Reliable estimates of biodiversity are constrained by an inability to produce reliable estimates of nationwide status, trends and threats for many cryptic taxa. Effective decision-making therefore requires (1) a better balanced assessment of biodiversity; and (2) collation and analysis of ‘messy’ species data that are collected using a variety of protocols.
Anecdotal evidence points to declines in many of the UK’s amphibians and reptiles (or herpetofauna), particularly in formerly widespread species such as the adder and common toad. The National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) was designed to provide evidence on trends in UK herpetofauna, but has been unable to deliver substantive insights. Fortunately, statistical tools have now emerged that are capable of providing robust trends from unstructured data, including citizen science records.
This project will bring together existing datasets from a range of organisations into a common modelling framework, integrating diverse datasets using hierarchical Bayesian models. These outputs will be used to:
- Reveal national status and trends from disparate data (including NARRS and BTO Garden Bird Watch)
- Determine the drivers of trends in distribution and abundance
- Forecast trends under scenarios of future change
- Explore options for the design of an integrated monitoring portfolio
The student will receive a comprehensive training experience, covering a broad range of analytical skills including Bayesian statistical techniques for spatio-temporal modelling using citizen science data, as well as transferable skills including stakeholder engagement and knowledge exchange.
The successful candidate will have at least a 2:1 degree in a relevant subject and be capable of demonstrating good numeracy. Experience of UK wildlife conservation, especially reptiles and amphibians, would be an advantage.