Supervisory Team: Dr Aldina Franco, Prof James Pearce-Higgins (External team member BTO)
This PhD provides the student with the opportunity to design potential future UK landscapes tailored to bird conservation, taking into account both climate change and current policies. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has tracked long-term population trends in 117 breeding bird species in many different habitats. As the UK has a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, then the land-use policy will be critical to achieving this. The £640 million Nature for Climate Fund aims to plant more than 40 million trees and restore 35,000 hectares of peatland in England to increase carbon sinks. The selected student will be at the forefront of providing scientific advice on needed changes in land use planning maximising the synergies between climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation in the UK. The student will build on existing models to explore the relative importance of land cover and climate change in bird populations and communities across the UK. They will identify priority areas for future conservation and identify conservation responses such as ecosystem restoration. Finally, they will explore in the field the role that microclimate may have played in driving 25-year changes in abundance and distribution using the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey data (BBS). The student will be housed within the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, founded in 2000 to conduct high-quality integrated research in support of the UK and international climate policy. The student will be supervised by four experts in the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, including two authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s reports and the Director of Science at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). BTO is a registered charity combining professional and citizen science in order to study birds and their habitats.