NERC Doctoral Training Partnership Research Scholarship

    Background: The provision of supplementary food (SF) has become a widespread tool for recovering populations of threatened species (Ewen et al. 2014). Therefore, understanding the effects of SF is a fundamental question for population biologists. SF is often applied as a safety-net whilst the limiting factors of a threatened population are addressed, but a growing body of research also demonstrates that SF can sometimes hinder the population it is intended to help (Blanco et al. 2011; Martínez-Abraín & Oro 2013) or can have wider negative effects (Orros et al. 2013). Remarkably, decisions to provide SF are seldom based on sound population theory and, crucially, anticipated benefits are rarely evaluated against resulting demographic trajectory. Indeed, SF is now regarded as a dogmatic approach to population management and the science community has called for scientific scrutiny of the effectiveness of SF (Martínez-Abraín & Oro 2013).

    Opportunity: What is needed is a rigorous study of SF across multiple species-systems where costs and benefits can be partitioned and quantified across individual-level life histories and within a detailed population-level context (Ewen et al. 2014). Teasing apart the different effects of SF on vital rates and understanding how they interact to change population trajectory requires (i) detailed long-term data on individual life histories, (ii) an SF regime that is easily manipulated, and (iii) multiple study-systems – all of which are uniquely available for this project.

    For further details visit the scholarship website.


    EU and UK resident.

    Person specification: An ambitious student to embrace a rich opportunity to develop into a highly employable research scientist, with an interest in combining theoretical and experimental approaches to population management. We seek a well-motivated, organized and conscientious individual with strong interests in applied conservation science.

    The successful candidate will ideally have an MSc degree in conservation, ecology or environmental sciences and strong analytical skills. Other desirable attributes include fieldwork experience, expertise in stable isotopes, molecular genetics, statistical analyses, bird-handling, and ornithological fieldwork. Additional training in these areas, and also on data processing and analysis, will also be available.


    The successful candidate who meets RCUK’s eligibility criteria (see will be awarded a NERC studentship. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award. The stipend for 2014/15 was £13,863 p.a.

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