PhD Studentship in Does Habitat Specialization Increase Vulnerability to Global Environmental Changes? University of Southampton, Biological Sciences Research

PhD Studentship – Does habitat specialisation increase vulnerability to global environmental changes? Assessing the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on bats in Malawi.


Biological Sciences Research


Location: Highfield Campus

Closing Date: Friday 05 January 2018

Reference: 930117BJ

PhD Studentship – Does habitat specialisation increase vulnerability to global environmental changes?Assessing the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on bats in Malawi.

PhD Supervisor: Orly Razgour (Biological Sciences, University of Southampton)

Co supervisor: Patrick Osborne (Engineering & the Environment, University of Southampton)

External supervisor: Emma Stone (African Bat Conservation & School of Biosciences, Cardiff University)


Application Deadline: 05.01.2018


Interviews will be held at the University of Southampton in February-March 2018.


Competition funded: NERC SPITFIRE DTP studentship


PhD Description:


Anthropogenic environmental changes are a major threat to biodiversity. Given the extent of these changes and expected biodiversity losses, it is important to effectively identify the most vulnerable species to guide conservation management. Ecological specialisation is thought to be a key trait signalling species’ vulnerability to environmental changes, especially when coupled with higher trophic level occupancy, low reproductive rates, long generation times and limited dispersal abilities. This project will investigate whether specialist species are more sensitive to anthropogenic land-use changes using bats in Malawi as a case study.


Malawi has amongst the highest rates of environmental pressures from agriculture and deforestation in southern Africa; however, the impacts on wildlife are unknown. Based on their ecological and life history traits, bats are expected to be particularly sensitive to environmental changes. Therefore increasing agricultural pressures and deforestation in Malawi are likely to pose a particular threat to forest specialist bats.


The PhD candidate will combine molecular and spatial ecological approaches to develop the following objectives:


1. Determine the effect of land-use changes on population size, distribution, patterns of genetic variation and long-term threats to specialist versus generalist bat species.


2. Relate the effect of environmental heterogeneity to bat movement patterns across land-use change gradients to identify important habitats and areas for maintaining landscape connectivity.


3. Model the expansion potential of generalist bat species, and the effect of their expansion on forest specialists.


This multidisciplinary project offers training opportunities in ecological fieldwork, GIS, remote sensing, spatial statistics, ecological modelling, molecular lab techniques and genetic data analysis. The PhD candidate will travel to Malawi for fieldwork and training.


For more information:


The project is funded for 3.5 years and welcomes applicants from the UK and EU (EU applicants need to have been residents in the UK for at least 3 years prior to application), who have or expect to obtain at least an upper second class degree (BSc or MSc) in Biological Sciences or allied subjects. Funding will cover fees and a stipend at current research council rates of £ 14,533 per annum.


Due to funding restrictions this position is only open to UK/EU applicants who have been residents in the UK for at least 3 years prior to application,


Information on how to apply:
Applications should be submitted online at:


Please place Orly Razgour’s name in the field for proposed supervisor.


General enquiries should be made to Orly Razgour at .Any queries on the application process should be made to

An Athena Swan Silver Award, demonstrating their commitment to provide equal opportunities and to advance the representation of women in STEM/M subjects: science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. Due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. University benefits include onsite childcare facilities, state-of-the-art on-campus sports, arts and culture facilities, a full programme of events and a range of staff discounts.

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