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Join the team!

Two PhD's Available with September 2019 Starts!

Inquire below *Dec 5th deadline approaching*


Understanding the effects of environmental chemical mixtures on seabird health and fitness (ref-IAP2-18-91)

Supervised by Dr Karen Spencer, St Andrews, Dr Caroline Gauchotte-Lindsay, University of Glasgow and Dr Liz Humphreys, British Trust for Ornithology. 

Enquiry Deadline: January 9th 2019

Seabirds rate as some of the fastest declining species globally, but the reasons underlying these widespread declines are not fully understood. One potential reason lies with increasing levels of pollution. 

We manufacture thousands of different chemicals for use in a range of different products, including pharmaceuticals, personal care products, detergents and pesticides/fertilisers. The majority of these ‘environmental chemicals’ (ECs) persist within the environment, facilitating bioaccumulation and their ubiquitous presence is a real concern for vertebrate health Worldwide. One major concern is that ECs can interact with physiological systems, altering many biological processes, including reproductive ability. There is now a real need to study EC exposure profiles in an ecologically relevant way to determine the importance of ECs in driving seabird health changes across the life cycle and estimate population-level effects.

This innovative and multi-disciplinary project will focus in on the effects of differential EC exposure on reproductive success and health in three declining seabird species that show species differences and individual specialisations in their foraging habitats: Herring Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. These species utilise forage in urban, inland and marine habitats during breeding and hence are likely to be exposed to a wide range of EC profiles. This makes them excellent models from which to extrapolate the potential fitness effects of ECs on other seabird species. As such this project represents a potential step-change in our understanding of anthropogenic impacts on wildlife populations.

Opportunities in the MoB Lab