Mink in Welsh waterways: The efficacy of invasive species control (Masters by Research Scholarship)


Mink in Welsh waterways: The efficacy of invasive species control

School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University

Project ID: BUK2193

Annual Stipend: £11,586

Application Deadline: 20 September 2019

Invasive species are one of the leading causes of global biodiversity decline and significant conservation effort has been focussed on the control of these species. The American Mink (Neovsion vison) is one such species, a small carnivore native to North America that has spread rapidly across the United Kingdom after being released from fur farms. Mink are very effective predators that are able to move freely through both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Therefore, they have the potential to significantly impact populations of small mammals, ground-nesting birds and amphibians outside of their native range. The increase in numbers of mink over recent decades has led to a considerable effort by conservation practitioners to control and even remove the species from areas of natural habitat. However, resources in conservation are limited and it is important that the effectiveness of the management interventions are quantified, while new monitoring approaches are tested.

This Research Masters studentship aims to explore how the intensity of invasive species management influences the presence and habitat use of mink in the waterways of North Wales. The project will be run in partnership with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and will use a range of field techniques including purpose-built rafts that are moored in waterways for the detection of mink through faecal samples and tracks, as well as camera traps to acquire detailed information on the activity patterns of mink. We will also be employing molecular genetic approaches to further assess the relative presence (and potentially abundance) of mink within a given habitat. To do this, water and sediment samples will be collected across the study sites for detailed DNA analysis. Professor Si Creer, who heads a dedicated molecular ecology research group at Bangor University will be leading this aspect of the project. The outputs from this research will be directly relevant to the conservation of freshwater habitats in North Wales, as well as for the control and management of mink across the United Kingdom.

Requirements: This position will provide an excellent opportunity for a motivated student to develop crucial skills for a career in ecology and conservation. Candidates should have an undergraduate science or maths degree with a classification of 2:1 or above. Applicants with prior experience in conducting ecological fieldwork and/or genetic data collection and analysis are encouraged to apply. There will be a significant amount of fieldwork associated with this project, which requires a reasonable level of fitness, as well as a driving licence and access to a car.

Address informal enquiries to Dr Graeme Shannon (g.shannon@bangor.ac.uk)

Funding Details: The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus an annual stipend of £11,586.

To apply: Applicants should send the following to Dr Graeme Shannon (g.shannon@bangor.ac.uk), cc’d to Penny Dowdney (p.j.dowdney@bangor.ac.uk) by 20 September :

(1) A cover letter explaining how you meet the requirements of the studentship and why you would like the position.

(2) A two-page CV.

(3) An electronic copy of your final year dissertation or another piece of substantial writing/research output.

(4) Contact details of two referees.

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.

Due to ESF funding, eligibility restrictions apply to this scholarship. To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be resident in the Convergence Area of Wales on University registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.