Part-funded MSc project

**Applications are now closed**

Bird behaviour at birdfeeders: implications for feeder design

A part-funded full time 1 year MSc by Research is available in the School of Biological, Biomedical and Environmental Sciences (SoBBES) at the University of Hull. The project is part-funded: fees at the UK/EU student rate are paid by SoBBES and research costs are provided by Westland Horticulture, but unfortunately no maintenance/stipend is available.

Supervisors: Dr Lesley Morrell (SoBBES), Dr Graham Scott (SoBBES), Martin McDaid (Westland Horticulture), Lorron Bright (Westland Horticulture)

In collaboration with Westland Horticulture, we are seeking to understand the choices that wild birds make at bird feeders. In the UK, 12.6 million people feed birds annually1, and 7.4 million of those use bird feeders2, playing an important role in supporting bird populations3,4,5. Given the importance of feeding birds both ecologically and economically, a key question for the bird food industry is to understand how birds choose between different food types and feeders, and to design feeders that are both effective and attractive to birds. Understanding decisions is also a fundamental aim of behavioural ecology, psychology and economics, and these decisions are often context dependent6. The project therefore has scope to both deliver recommendations for industry and contribute to the scientific literature on context-dependent decision-making in wild animals.

The project will involve extensive fieldwork in Hull and East Yorkshire, including observations of bird behaviour at feeders and quantification of feeder preferences. Westland Horticulture are particularly interested in understanding preferences based on the physical characteristics of feeders, although there is scope for the successful candidate to develop their own research questions within the context of the project.

We are looking for a highly motivated, dynamic and enthusiastic individual, who will join the Ecology Research Group in SoBBES. You should have at least a 2.1 degree in a relevant subject (e.g. biology, ecology, environmental science), experience of fieldwork and some skills in bird identification. Ideally, you should also have experience of experimental design and data analysis, and have access to your own vehicle (although this is not essential). Although not essential, a ringing permit may be helpful. As a postgraduate research student at the University, you will undertake generic skills training in addition to your degree.

For further information, please email Dr Graham Scott or Dr Lesley Morrell or including a copy of your CV.

To apply, click here and complete the online application. Please also attach a CV.

Closing date: Applications accepted until the position is filled

The student is expected to start in September/October 2014

References: 1. DEFRA (2002) Working with the grain of nature.  2. Davies, ZG et al (2009) Biol Conserv 142: 761-771. 4. Fuller, RA, et al (2008) Divers Distrib 14: 131–137.  5. Cannon, AR, Chamberlain, DE & Toms, MP (2005) J Appl Ecol 42: 659-671.  6. Bland, RL, Tully, J & Greenwood, JJ (2004) Bird study 51:97–106. 6. Bateson, M, Healy, SD & Turly, TA (2003) Proc R Soc Lond B 270: 1271-1276

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