mardi 15 novembre 2016

The environmental determinants of dispersal and migratory behaviour of long lived birds

NOTE: this PhD is not yet funded; its funding depends on the shortlisted candidate obtaining a grant (somewhat similar to the Ecole Doctorale process in France…)
Project Supervisor
Dr Aldina Franco
School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
Project description
In recent years, evidence has grown that the migratory behaviour of many bird species is changing in response to changing environmental conditions. In particular, non-migratory individuals have been reported in previously wholly migratory populations. These rapid changes in migratory behaviour provide an opportunity to both identify the mechanisms through which complex and highly evolved behaviours can adapt to changing environmental conditions, and to explore the consequence of these changes for migratory populations and their potential role in ongoing population declines, particularly for sub-Saharan migrants. Changes to environmental conditions can alter the selection pressures operating on migratory behaviour, hence the frequency of residency and migratory individuals can vary in response to changes in environmental conditions. This information is difficult to obtain since the environmental data is not available at the scale individuals experience it.
This project will involve tracking white storks (large, long-lived birds) and simultaneously monitor the environmental conditions which individual birds experience. Our current GPS/GSM loggers can record accelerometer and temperature data but new sensors are needed to monitor other environmental parameters that may affect dispersal and movement (wind speed, direction, humidity). We will monitor how changes in environmental conditions will affect the movement, migratory behaviour and mortality of resident and migratory white storks.
– Identify the environmental determinants of dispersal and migratory behaviour, controlling for individual fitness, age and sex;
– Incorporate new sensors in existing dataloggers and create new prototypes that simultaneous monitor bird movement (GPS), behavior (accelerometer) and environmental parameters (e.g. temperature, wind speed, barometer)
– Determine the influence of environmental parameters in demography of white storks including migration and over-winter survival, arrival date, nest-site selection, and breeding success;
We will track the movement of 40 juveniles and 20 adults and their movement in response to changes in environmental conditions. Movement characteristics (speed, direction, flight type and distance moved) will be related to the data obtained by the environmental sensors on the tracking devices and to ground cover on the locations where birds land. This project will take advantage of the existing databases on the movement of white storks, expertise in data analyses and field techniques of the supervisory team of the collaborating partners.
This project will train the PhD student on the interface between ecology and engineering. The student will be involved in assembling and testing new sensors for tracking devices, will be able to assess their performance in lab conditions and in the field, by deploying the devices on birds.
– Assembling tracking devices, testing of different batteries and solar panels (HWU and UEA);
– Assembling new sensors on existing tracking devices and testing its performance (energy demand and new design) (HWU);
– Programming of tracking devices and of specific sensors according to project requirements (e.g setting up geofences for different sensors) (UEA);
– Deployment of tracking devices on migratory and resident birds (UEA/Portugal);
– Movement and behavior data analyses and interpretation (UEA);
– Demography and survival analyses of birds with different movement strategies (UEA and BTO).
The NEXUSS CDT provides state-of-the-art, highly experiential training in the application and development of cutting-edge Smart and Autonomous Observing Systems for the environmental sciences, alongside comprehensive personal and professional development. There will be extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial / government / policy partners.
The student will be registered at University of East Anglia (UEA), and hosted at UEA School of Environmental Sciences.
This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NexUSS NERC-EPSRC CDT
(ii) Gilroy, J., Gill, J., Butchart, S., Jones, V., Franco, AMA (2016) Migratory diversity predicts population declines in birds. Ecology Letters. 19. pp. 308–317
(ii) Gilbert NI, Correia RA, Silva JP, Pacheco C, Catry I, Atkinson PW, Gill JA, Franco AMA (2016) Movement and behaviour of resident White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) from a partially migratory population: impacts of landfill use. Movement Ecology.
(iii) Gordo O, Brotons L, Ferrer X, Comas P (2005) Do changes in climate patterns in wintering areas affect the timing of the spring arrival of trans-Saharan migrant birds? Global Change Biology 11: 12-21.
Start date 1 October 2017
Programme PhD
Mode of Study full time
Studentship Length 3 years 8 months
Entry requirements
Acceptable First Degree Any Earth or Environmental Science discipline, Any numerate discipline, Biology , Engineering, Mathematics
Minimum Entry Standard 2:1 Honours degree
Apply Now
Deadline 16 January 2017