Recent activity

MSc Research Studentship - Developing a tool to predict seabird vulnerability to oil pollution

Mark Jessopp, February 19, 2014

Although much is known about the distribution of seabirds at breeding colonies in Ireland, little detailed knowledge is available about where these birds occur at sea during the breeding season. This leaves stakeholders in a poor position to predict or manage potential impacts on seabirds.

The aim of this project is to a) develop and b) test a GIS system that will facilitate predicting, and counteracting, the impacts of oil spills and other environmental impacts on seabird biodiversity. The system will combine knowledge of colony sizes and species’ behavioural traits to predict likely distribution patterns and generate detailed GIS maps of where the most important areas are for seabirds. These maps will be validated using GPS tracking data and land-based observations to produce a detailed atlas showing where the most important seabird biodiversity hotspots are located at sea, and thus will facilitate decisions with respect to where oil-pollution control measures may be deployed most effectively.

Specifically this 2-year studentship will focus on collating existing data on seabird distribution from multiple sources, and collecting new GPS tracking data from several seabird species off the west and south-west coast of Ireland. Some GIS work will be involved but for the most part this data will feed into a second MSc studentship that focuses on building a predictive spatial model, to be advertised at a later stage.

The student will be supervised by Dr John Quinn (School of BEES) and Dr Mark Jessopp (Coastal & Marine Research Centre), and will work in a team consisting of 3 part or full time research assistants, and another MSc student who will focus on the GIS and modelling aspects of the project, supported by a range of personnel with relevant ornithological and GIS experience.

Candidates should possess at minimum a 2.1 BSc (Hons) degree in a relevant discipline. Applicants must be self‐motivated with good communication, organisational and writing skills, and must have a full, clean driving licence. Experience of working in a team environment, report writing and meeting key targets and goals is important. Experience working with birds would be desirable.

Informal Enquiries: Please contact Dr. John Quinn (Email: or Dr. Mark Jessopp (

Remuneration: This position covers fees plus a tax-free stipend of €16,000p.a.

To Apply:

To apply please send by email a CV, details of 2 referees, and accompanying letter of application outlining your relevant experience and why you want to do this studentship to Dr J. Quinn, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Enterprise Centre, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, Ireland. E‐mail

Application deadline is 31 March 2014 (contact before applying; studentship dependent on finalisation of ongoing contract negotiations). Interviews will be held on 14/15 April. Start date 5 May or as soon thereafter as possible.