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Postdoctoral research opportunity at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology: Spatial analyses of Bearded Vulture movements in southern Africa to inform wind farm development

19 Nov 2012 - 10:45

Image: Adult Bearded Vulture with a satellite transmitter (Credit: Carmen Calero)Closing date: 7 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: 7 December 2012

Central to development goals throughout Africa is the need for greater energy production, especially the need for reliable low-carbon energy supplies. Wind energy offers the opportunity to provide such energy. However, inappropriately sited wind farms can have devastating impacts on birds, particularly on populations of large raptors, such as eagles and vultures that are vulnerable to collisions with the turning blades.

The Bearded Vulture in Southern Africa has declined by 30% over the last three decades and the entire population of only 100 pairs occurs exclusively in Lesotho and the surrounding Drakensberg escarpment in South Africa. The exact causes and mechanisms of the decline are not well understood and are the subject of an ongoing research programme. However, the species now faces a new threat in the form of extensive wind farms which are currently planned for the Lesotho Highlands. Minimising the impacts of these wind farms on bearded vultures is therefore crucial for the conservation of this species.

This project will take advantage of some unique GPS tracking data which has been gathered over the last 4 years on 20 individual bearded vultures. The post-doc will analyse these GPS fixes to build space-use models for different age classes. Scenario modelling will then explore the best configuration for wind turbine placement in the region to minimise the impact on this species. 
We seek a post-doc with extensive experience of modelling tracking data and of building predictive space-use models. Considerable experience of using and processing GIS data is also required, as is a sound publication list.

Funding is secured for a R140 000 CoE bursary (tax exempt) for one year and adequate project running costs (w.e.f. January 2013).

To apply, please send a CV (including your academic record, publication list & 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: Adult Bearded Vulture with a satellite transmitter (Credit: Carmen Calero)

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