NERC DTP potential PhD project

Impact of rainforest modification on predator-prey interactions: a molecular ecological approach

*** I have two other positions available too, and a fourth (funded PhD) will be announced soon. Please check homepage for details ***

This PhD project is only available through the London NERC Doctoral Training Programme (DTP). Candidates interested in this project should apply to the NERC DTP, ensuring that they meet the eligibility requirements. The formal deadline is Monday 17th February at 9am but candidates are stongly recommended to discuss their application with the me before this.

As tropical forests are increasingly cleared for development, there is critical interest in the conservation value of modified tropical landscapes. The SAFE (Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems) project in Sabah (Borneo) presents an outstanding opportunity to study consequences of forest clearance for biodiversity and ecosystem function in forest fragments. At this site, the forest is being cleared for oil palm plantations, presenting the chance for a student to collect valuable data on trophic interactions (e.g. predator-prey) along a time series of habitat degradation.

Focusing on insects and insectivorous bats, the student will characterise assemblages using high throughput genetic barcoding. Fieldwork will include malaise trapping to catch insects, and harp-trapping to capture bats for guano collection. The student will be working alongside a large team funded under NERC’s ‘Human-modified Tropical Forests’ programme. The student will be co-supervised by Dr Beth Clare (QMUL).


Training will be given in next generation sequencing, data handing, community ecology analyses, and field techniques including bat and insect survey methods. Fieldwork will be physically demanding and living conditions will be basic.

Potential applicants must have a First Class or Upper Second Class degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline (Zoology, Biology, Genetics), and preferably also a Master’s degree. Fieldwork experience is essential, preferably in the tropics. Interested candidates are encouraged to send a CV and cover letter to Dr S Rossiter ( before the deadline for formal applications.

Keywords: tropical ecology, genetics, conservation, mammals, bats

[1] Struebig MJ, Kingston T, Petit EJ, Le Comber SC, Zubaid A, Mohd-Adnan A and Rossiter SJ (2011) Parallel declines in species and genetic diversity in tropical forest fragments. Ecology Letters 14, 582-590.

[2] Clare EL et al. (2013), The diet of Myotis lucifugus across Canada: assessing foraging quality and diet variability. Molecular Ecology doi: 10.1111/mec.12542.

[3] Ewers RM et al. (2011) A large-scale forest fragmentation experiment: the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems Project. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 366, 3292-3302.

Funding Notes:

Applicants must meet the UK Research Council eligibility criteria, including the 3-year residency requirements in the UK. For details of eligibility requirements please see In most cases UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for the three years prior to the start of the PhD will be eligible for a full-award.


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