mardi 15 novembre 2016

NERC GW4+ DTP PhD studentship: Scottish Wildcat conservation and the ecology of sympatric cats Ref: 2261

About the award

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP).  The GW4+ DTP consists of the Great Western Four alliance of the University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University and the University of Exeter plus six Research Organisation partners:  British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Met Office, the Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory.  The partnership aims to provide a broad training in earth and environmental sciences, designed to train tomorrow’s leaders in earth and environmental science. For further details about the programme please see
At least 4 fully-funded studentships that encompass the breadth of earth and environmental sciences are being offered to start in September 2017 at Exeter.  The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,296 per annum for 2016-2017, research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.
Main supervisor: Prof Robbie McDonald, University of Exeter
Co-supervisor:  Dr Sarah Perkins, University of Cardiff
Co-supervisor:  Dr Roo Campbell, Scottish Natural Heritage
University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Cornwall
Project Description:
Scottish wildcats are amongst the highest conservation priorities in the UK and Europe. They are the subject of Scottish Wildcat Action, a major multi-agency conservation programme being undertaken in the species' refugia in the Highlands of Scotland. As wildcats are fully protected as a European Protected Species, the main and ongoing problem they now face is hybridisation with domestic and free-living, owned and unowned cats. This project will work towards understanding and mitigating this conservation challenge and will work alongside major wildcat conservation programmes providing research insight, input and support to this vital and urgent conservation work. The student will work on the ecology, biology, health and management of wildcats, feral and domestic cats living in sympatry in the Scottish wildcat priority areas and beyond. Using tracking and proximity logging technologies they will understand the movements and interactions of all cats. By using stable isotope technologies they will understand variation in foraging  and how this relates to ranging behaviour. They will understand factors affecting the health, microbiota, welfare and behaviour of cats in the project area. By adopting an interdisciplinary approach using techniques from the social sciences, they will work with cat owners to understand how owners manage, feed and care for their cats. Overall they will develop an understanding of how and where hybridisation might take place and how this and other interactions between wild and domestic cats can be managed to improve the conservation of the Scottish wildcat.

This is an exciting, applied research project in which students will acquire a breadth of skills in conservation science. The student will join thriving teams of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers working on wildlife ecology, conservation and management at Exeter and Cardiff Universities. In addition they will benefit from a parallel project working on cats, cat owners and predation of wildlife. This is a CASE project with our partners at Scottish Natural Heritage meaning the student will gain valuable practical experience of conservation in action and the policy and practice environments in a statutory nature conservation agency and a large multi-agency conservation programme.
Scottish Natural Heritage.  Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan. (2013)

Kilshaw, K. et al. (2016) Mapping the spatial configuration of hybridization risk for an endangered population of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) in Scotland. Mammal Res. 61, 1-11 (2016).
Entry requirements:
Applicants should have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK.   Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have Master’s degree.  Applicants with a minimum of Upper Second Class degree and significant relevant non-academic experience are encouraged to apply.  All applicants would need to meet our English language requirements by the start of the  project  The majority of the studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes; however up to 9 fully-funded studentships across the DTP are available for EU/EEA applicants not ordinarily resident in the UK.   Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.
Come and see us at the GW4 Science and Engineering Fair to find out more.


Application deadline:6th January 2017
Value:14,296 per annum
Duration of award:per year
Contact: CLES PGR team +44 (0)1392 725150 /

How to apply

Click here to apply

Please be aware you will be asked to upload the following documents:
•       CV
•       Letter of application outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project.
•       Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained.  This should be an interim transcript if you are still studying.
•       If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your current proficiency in English.  For further details of the University’s English language requirements please see
You will be asked to name 2 referees as part of the application process however we will not contact these people until the shortlisting stage. Your referees should not be from the prospective supervisory team.
The closing date for applications is midnight on 6 January 2017.  Interviews will be held at the University of Exeter between 6 February and 13 February 2017.
If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 725150 / 723706.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the supervisor.
During the application process, the University may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates.  These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:
• the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
• administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.
Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.