MbyRes Fees Scholarship

Carry-over effects of food provisioning on garden birds: an individual-based study

Supervisors: Dr. Jon Blount1, Prof. Stuart Bearhop1 & Dr. Kate Plummer2

1Centre for Ecology & Conservation, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Penryn TR10 9EZ, UK

2British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU, UK

Provisioning of food to garden birds is a multi-million pound industry, and is widely assumed to benefit wild bird populations. Some recent evidence suggests that provisioning in winter might actually be counterproductive, reducing future breeding performance at the population level. This could be because food provisioned in winter results in an unbalanced diet, or creates an ecological trap by giving birds inaccurate cues about breeding conditions. Alternatively it could enable low quality individuals to survive and recruit to breeding populations. To disentangle such carry-over effects, and better understand the efficacy of bird feeding as conservation measure, requires knowledge about individual-level responses to food provisioning. However until now, most previous studies have only measured the effects at a population-level.

This Masters by Research (MbyRes) project will use established nestbox-breeding populations of tits and individual-based monitoring of food uptake to assess how provisioning impacts on birds across seasons. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, in biology or a related subject, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK. Applicants must have excellent academic references. Applications are especially welcome from individuals who have experience in the capture, handling and ringing of wild birds.

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Please note that this MbyRes scholarship is funded by a private donation to the University of Exeter. The successful applicant will be expected to start the project in September 2013 and will be based at the University’s Cornwall Campus situated near Falmouth. This award provides funding to cover the UK/EU tuition fees (£3,850) and a contribution towards research costs. Students must make their own arrangements to cover all living costs. For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full for 1 year of full-time study (or for 2 years of part-time study).  Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only cover part of the international tuition fee.

To apply please upload the following documents to the studentship application form – http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/money/studentships/application/

  • CV
  • Covering letter (explaining why they are well-suited to the post).
  • Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email cles-studentships@exeter.ac.uk or telephone +44(0)1392 725150. To discuss the post informally, please telephone Jon Blount (+44 (0)1326 371877).

The closing date for applications is midnight on Thursday 30th May 2013.

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