Prof Cock van Oosterhout, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
Prof Diana Bell, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia
Dr Simon Tollington, Chester Zoo
Dr Matt Clarke, Natural History Museum, London
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) produces the Red List that classifies species’ extinction risks. Nearly 100,000 of the total of 1.9 million describes species have been classified on the Red List. However, fitness data recorded in husbandry records of zoos, as well as their studbook data are currently not used in the Red List assessment. This can lead to an underestimation of the long-term extinction risk, resulting in suboptimal conservation actions. The IUCN is committed to a ‘One Plan’ approach of conservation, i.e. all available data from zoos and in situ conservation projects should be used both in Red List assessment and population management (http://www.cpsg.org/our-approach/one-plan-approach-conservation). This ARIES DTP PhD studentship project will embrace this ‘One Plan’ approach, thereby significantly advancing both the study and practise of conservation.
In this PhD project, the student will collaborate with Chester Zoo and other UK and EU zoos to gain access to studbook data of ~50 endangered bird species. In addition, the genome of some of these bird species will be sequenced (at the Natural History Museum in London) to assess the past and current rate of inbreeding. The student will use these data in a Vortex model to assess the long-term extinction risk of these bird species, and advise zoos on the optimal management strategies for the conservation of these bird species.
The student will communicate extensively with conservation practitioners at the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), Chester Zoos and other zoos. You will learn how to operate and download data from the Species360 database. In addition, you will gain skills in bioinformatics for the processing and analysis of whole genome sequence data at the Natural History Museum (NHM London) and the UEA. You will learn population genomic analysis and quantitative genetics, as well as population viability analysis (PVA) using the model Vortex.
We are looking for an individual with a degree in biology (e.g. ecology, evolution, conservation biology, genomics), with excellent communication skills and quantitative skills (e.g. bioinformatics), and a real passion for conservation.