Using molecular genetics to help reconcile food production and biodiversity conservation
With growing demand for food, adverse effects of agriculture on biodiversity will increase. This multidisciplinary project seeks to discover how to strike the best balance for land use by inferring which species of bird are most at risk from population reductions caused by past and future agricultural development. Specifically the student will use genetic population reconstructions to identify what sorts of species have always been rare, which have increased in abundance and which have declined as the area under crops and pasture has grown. Using a mixture of published and new genetic data, late Pleistocene/Holocene population histories will be estimated for a range of birds representing different ecological niches (e.g. woodland, wetland, dry open habitats). The resulting data will be interpreted in the context of current land use and reconstructions of past vegetation cover. Relevant skills include population genetics, molecular genetics, use of computer programmes like BEAST and STRUCTURE, database management and statistics. The successful candidate will have experience in one or more of these, though probably not all, but should be afraid of none!
Being multidisciplinary, the project will be supervised by three people with complementary expertise: Prof. William Amos (primary supervisor), Prof. Andrew Balmford and Prof. Rhys Green.
Drummond et al. 2005. Mol. Biol. Evol. 22: 1185. Phalan et al. 2011. Science 333: 1289
Arbabi et al. 2014. Ibis 156: 799.
This is a strategic BBSRC studentship beginning in October 2015. The successful candidate will be part of the Cambridge BBSRC DTP (http://bbsrcdtp.lifesci.cam.ac.uk/), and will be based in the Department of Zoology for their PhD. To apply, please send your CV and 1-2 page research proposal to Professor William Amos, firstname.lastname@example.org, by 23 Jan 2015. Shortlisted candidates will be called for interview in Cambridge, which will take place between 16 and 24 February 2015.