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PhD research opportunity at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute: Understanding the cause of the Martial Eagle decline in Protected Areas in South Africa

21 Dec 2012 - 10:45

Image: Immature Martial Eagle (Photo: Peter Ryan)Closing date: 21 December 2012 

We invite applications for the above full-time research opportunity at the FitzPatrick Institute, a world-renowned, national Centre of Excellence (CoE) in ornithological research with a strong emphasis on postgraduate studies.Closing date: 21 December 2012

The Martial Eagle is the largest eagle species in Africa, and has recently been uplisted by the IUCN from Least Concern to Near Threatened due to population declines. The species has a widespread distribution across most of sub-Saharan African and throughout much of this extensive range the species is now heavily reliant on protected areas. Within South Africa, dramatic declines of Martial Eagles within protected areas have recently been noted.

This PhD research project will explore the potential causes of the species decline within protected areas. Specifically, it will test whether these declines are most likely due to problems faced by the species within and/or outside of protected areas. Firstly, the project will examine breeding success and survival of breeding adults nesting within protected areas. Adults will be fitted with GPS tags to document habitat use within the adult’s home range. Using remotely sensed data the research will explore environmental correlates of breeding success. Secondly, the project will attach GPS-GSM tags to juvenile and sub-adult birds to understand their movement patterns, habitat use and survival rates both inside and, most importantly, outside protected areas. The results from this work will guide conservation recommendations aimed at ensuring the survival of this charismatic species in South Africa.

Candidates should have a good BSc Honours degree and an appropriate BSc Masters degree (Ecology/Conservation) and should have experience carrying out bird research, preferably with raptors and in Africa.

Funding is secured for an annual R100 000 CoE bursary for three years and adequate project running costs (w.e.f. Jan 2013).

To apply, please send a CV (including your academic record & names and contact details of three referees) and a short motivation for why you wish to undertake this research to Hilary Buchanan at hilary.buchanan@uct.ac.za. Informal enquires can be directed to Dr Arjun Amar:arjun.amar@uct.ac.za.

Image: Immature Martial Eagle (Photo: Peter Ryan)

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