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PhD Studentship: Ecology of black guillemots

Elizabeth Masden, June 8, 2015

Ecology of black guillemots in relation to marine protected areas and marine renewable energy developments (Supervisors: Dr Elizabeth Masden, Prof Bob Furness, Alex Robbins)

With funding secured through the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) and from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Environmental Research Institute (part of North Highland College and the University of the Highlands and Islands) is pleased to announce a new fully-funded 3.5 year PhD studentship.

The black guillemot Cepphus grylle is a diving seabird, widespread in northern latitudes. Compared with other diving seabirds such as the European shag, the black guillemot has been little studied. Consequently, there is limited ecological or behavioural information available. The MPA network has been designed to conserve some of Scotland’s most important marine wildlife and habitats. For black guillemots, MPAs have been chosen on the basis of the occurrence of significant aggregations of individuals but it is not always known why the aggregations occur in specific locations, or under what conditions they might change. It is important to understand these links and it is vital that the MPAs continue to serve their purpose. In addition, it is necessary to understand the pressures and threats a population may experience, including human disturbances and developments e.g. renewable energy, and predators including alien invasive mammals.

The overall aim of the PhD project is to improve our ecological understanding of black guillemots in Scotland and so provide decisions-makers with the information required to: i.) determine whether MPAs are functioning, as designed, to conserve black guillemots and ii.) assess the environmental impacts of marine developments, such as renewable energy projects, on the species.

Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a minimum of an upper second-class honours degree in a relevant discipline. Experience of fieldwork, including bird ringing and tagging would be preferable. The studentship will receive an annual stipend of £14,057 and will participate in the MASTS Graduate School. For a full project description and details of how to apply please visit: Application Deadline: Friday 3rd July 2015.