PhD Research Project: NERC CENTA - Hot in the City: How does urban heat island effect influence act

Location
United Kingdom
Posted
Nov 30, 2016
Closes
Jan 23, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Hours
Full Time
Details

The world is urbanising rapidly with over half of the global human population now living in urban centres. Urbanisation is inevitably accompanied by habitat change but it also results in thermal phenomena, such as the urban heat island (UHI) effect that can have profound impacts on human as well as non-human populations. Lessons can be learnt rapidly from urban wildlife as to how they adapt to this rapidly changing environment. This project will test the Cold Adaptation Hypothesis that proposes that in endotherms temperature extremes may be a potent (and previously poorly considered) driver of metabolic strategies (and capacities) of individuals. The project will investigate the ecological energetics of species in the city to study how they meet the energetic demands of urban life under different thermal regimes.

The project will use the pre-existing network of weather stations all over the city (via GEES’ Birmingham Urban Climate Lab) to monitor how changes in the city’s ambient temperature shape the activity budgets (and thus the life history) of urban birds. The project will combine many established methodologies to quantify temperature extremes, food availability and use, breeding performance, habitat use and survival of birds across the urban gradient. It is strongly inter-disciplinary involving training that incorporates substantial components of fieldwork, laboratory-based analyses and outreach through Citizen Science. We will work closely with Twootz.com Ltd who will supply food and feeders for the supplementary feeding part of the study while we will also work with the wildlife telemetry industry to employ modern tracking technologies to study movements of birds in the city.

Funding Notes

In addition to completing an online application form, you will also need to complete and submit the CENTA studentship application form available from www.centa.org.uk.

CENTA studentships are for 3.5 years and are funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). In addition to the full payment of their tuition fees, successful candidates will receive the following financial support.

Annual stipend, set at £14,296 for 2016/17
Research training support grant (RTSG) of £8,000

CENTA students are required to undertake from 45 days training throughout their PhD including a 10 day placement.

References

[1] Birmingham City Council. 2012. Birmingham Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2012+: Preparing Birmingham for Climate Change Impacts. Birmingham City Council, Birmingham, UK.
[2] Deeming, D.C. & Reynolds, S.J. 2015. Nests, Eggs, & Incubation: New Ideas about Avian Reproduction. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK.
[3] Dickinson, J.L. & Bonney, R. 2012. Citizen Science: Public Participation in Environmental Research. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca, NY, USA.
[4] Harrison, T.J.E. et al. 2010. Does food supplementation really enhance productivity in breeding birds? Oecologia, 164, 311–320.
[5] Inger, R. & Bearhop, S. 2008. Applications of stable isotope analyses to avian ecology. Ibis, 150, 447–461.
[6] Lifson, N. & McClintock, R. 1966. Theory of the use of turnover rates of body water for measuring energy and material balance. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 12, 46–74.
[7] McNab, B. 2012. Extreme Measures: The Ecological Energetics of Birds and Mammals. Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, USA.
[8] Stager, M. et al. 2015. Disentangling environmental drivers of metabolic flexibility of birds: the importance of temperature extremes versus temperature variability. Ecography, 39, 787–795.
[9] Tomlinson, C.J. et al. 2013. Showcasing urban heat island work in Birmingham – measuring, monitoring, modeling and more. Weather, 68, 44–49.
[10] Warren, E.L. et al. 2016. The Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory - A high density, urban meteorological dataset, from 2012 -2014. Nature Scientific Data 3, 160038.