Academic Year 2022-2023
Institution Queen's University, Belfast


School: School of Biological Sciences

Project: Multitrophic responses to multitrophic conservation interventions: Non-target species responses to biological eradications on an island

Supervisors: Dr Neil Reid, Dr Thomas BodeyProf Jaimie Dick

Undergraduate Education: Zoology, University of St Andrews

Postgraduate Education: Conservation Biology, Manchester Metropolitan University

Research: My project aims to investigate the effects of an eradication of non-native mammals on a small island across multiple trophic levels using a range of remote-sensing technology. Research will take place alongside a larger RSPB-led project – LIFE Raft, which aims to eradicate both brown rat and ferret from Rathlin Island – a small (1,400 hectare) island, in order to protect the islands breeding bird populations that include a range of seabird and wader species as well as corncrake.

The project will involve collecting remote-sensing data using camera traps and audio recorders to investigate the effect of the eradication across multiple trophic levels, investigating how the eradication impacts non-target mammal species such as rabbits and hares as well as breeding birds and other non-target avian taxa like passerines, corvids and birds of prey. The project will also aim to explore the socio-economic impacts of the eradication on the local community, by conducting interviews with local residents.

The project is unique in both the fact that it will take a holistic approach to studying an eradication, not only collecting data on key species the eradication aims to protect such as ground nesting birds, but also non-target species across a range of trophic levels that will also be impacted by the eradication. This in turn will provide data on the whole ecosystem impact of island eradications.

The project also will produce research involving the first eradication of ferrets conducted in Europe and the second mustelid eradication within the UK – the first currently still on-going. I am therefore very excited to be able to conduct novel research in the field of eradication biology.

The hope is therefore that this research will help provide new insights into the wider ecosystem effects of eradications, and help facilitate future eradications of non-native mammals on small islands.


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