Ecological impact of land-use changes: ants as bio-indicators

Supervisor:  Dr Elva Robinson

Project description:

We are seeking a motivated and enthusiastic student for an MSc by Research project which will use existing rich datasets to address ecologically important questions. This project will suit a student with an interest in applied ecology and ecosystem function. While the project will primarily be based on data analysis, it will include a funded training visit to CSIRO, Darwin, Australia to learn more about the practical side of data collection.


Changes in land-management, e.g. grazing regimes or tree harvesting cycles, can dramatically affect biodiversity and ecological community function. Even more dramatic changes in community structure and function occur when habitats devastated by human activity (e.g. open cast mining) are allowed to recover. Ant communities are complex, with ants playing a wide range of ecological roles. Changes in ant community composition and structure can therefore be used as indicators for the ecological impact of land-use changes.


To use ant communities as indicators to:
1. Identify the ecological impact of a controlled grazing experiment
2. Assess the success of minesite rehabilitation


This project will use existing ant community datasets from a 10-year grazing experiment and from many years of minesite rehabilitation across multiple sites.


The results of this project will be valuable in guiding land management procedures and assessing the success of ecological rehabilitation. The results produced will be valuable both academically and to the applied conservation community.

Funding:  This is a one year self-funded research project which means the student will need to cover the costs of tuition fees (for UK/EU students - £4,228 for 2017/8 entry) plus living expenses.  However the costs of the fieldwork in Australia is funded.

Start date: October 2017

To discuss your suitability for this project please email:

Please read the 'How to apply' tab before submitting your application.