World Lagomorph Society
World Lagomorph Society
PhD project: Brown hares, Land use and predation risk
Thursday, December 03, 2015

Details of project and application process are via the following link: http://www.centa.org.uk/themes/evolution/ou18/

Project overview:

Interactions between different environmental factors cause complex changes in ecosystems. Changes in agricultural landscapes in western Europe have driven enormous changes in biodiversity, causing substantial declines and localised extinctions in a wide variety of species.

The brown hare, Lepus europaeus is one such species which has declined in the UK by perhaps as much as 80% in the past 150 years. Changes in land use associated with agricultural intensification are part of the story but there is good evidence that these changes interact with predation risk to affect hare numbers. The changes in land use which have impacted on hares directly have also affected their predators and this in combination with other changes in predator populations in agricultural areas has probably also had an effect. Hares are still fairly abundant in several regions and so provide an excellent model for understanding ecological interactions between species, their predators and habitats more widely.

This project will use a combination of methods to understand the effects of predation and predation risk on hare distribution, abundance and behaviour at a variety of scales from field to landscape and aim to unpick these effects from differences in land use.

The project will involve intensive fieldwork, ecological modelling, spatial analysis and advanced ecological statistics. It is an excellent opportunity to develop a wealth of field experience in tandem with training and practice in the latest analysis methods in ecology whilst working with some of our most charismatic wildlife.