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ENV East Doctoral Training Partnership


Applications to the EnvEast Doctoral Training Partnership are now closed.

Below you can browse some of the PhD projects we have previously funded; if you would like to be informed when applications open, or if you have any questions about EnvEast and our application process, please email us.

Projects previously funded by EnvEast


Measuring the effects of supplementary-feeding for recovering threatened populations (CASE award with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Wildlife Vets International)

Project description

Understanding what impacts the provision of supplementary food (SF) has on populations of threatened species is a fundamental question for conservation biologists. SF is often applied as a safety-net whilst factors limiting 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 or have wider negative effects. Remarkably, decisions to provide SF are seldom based on sound population theory and anticipated benefits are rarely evaluated against resulting demographic trajectory. Indeed, SF is now regarded as a dogmatic approach to population management, prompting the science community to call for scientific scrutiny of the effectiveness of SF. This studentship will utilise long-term datasets and design and implement experimental manipulations of SF across free-living populations of two iconic threatened bird species on Mauritius to examine how SF alters population vital rates and parasite prevalence and their net effect on population trajectory.

The student will analyse long-term data on SF-provision, disease prevalence, productivity and individual life histories. SF-use by both species is known to vary and will be measured at the individual level, alongside productivity, disease prevalence and demographic parameters. These data are analysable temporally and spatially. The student will be encouraged to build upon observed correlative patterns by testing these relationships through design and implementation of a series of field experiments where SF is manipulated across time/space during two extensive field seasons on Mauritius. There is flexibility to quantify individual SF-use using a variety of novel field- and lab-based methods.

This project incorporates extensive flexibility to enable the student to demonstrate a high level of independence and originality in testing research hypotheses. The student will be exposed to, and trained in, a broad range of scientific disciplines, including analysis of long-term datasets, experimental design, bird-handling/blood-sampling, PIT-tags, DNA extraction/PCR, stable isotopes, alongside theory in demography, epidemiology and nutritional ecology.


Dr John Ewen, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London

Prof Carl Jones MBE, (Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, CASE supervisor)

Dr Andrew Greenwood, (Wildlife Vets International, CASE supervisor)

Dr Patrick Mahoney

  • Start date 1 October 2015