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

United Kingdom
Nov 30, 2016
Jan 23, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time

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 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

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.


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[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.

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