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Mapping the distribution of the bog hoverfly Eristalis cryptarum on Dartmoor: development of an eDNA methodology Ref: 2126

Project Description:  

The bog hoverfly Eristalis cryptarum is a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Despite still being widely distributed in northern Europe, formerly including much of southern England, this species is now confined to only a handful of sites on Dartmoor. Surveys have focused on locating the free-flying adults as the aquatic larval stage has not been described. However, a method for detecting the presence of larvae would be more useful for conservation management as positive records could be tied to critical habitat. One potential technique, successfully developed for other aquatic species, is to amplify species-specific DNA from water samples. This would involve screening candidate primers, optimizing amplification of environmental DNA from a related, hover fly species and sampling for E. cryptarum at trial sites. This approach will provide a rapid and non-invasive survey method.

The ecology of the larval stages is largely unknown and another significant component of this project is the collection of field data. This research includes the recording of egg laying behaviour, in order to identify potential water bodies for sampling.

This project would require a student with previous molecular experience, though training will be provided. They should also enjoy working in the field and have a keen interest in entomology. The student will work in the laboratory of Dr Jamie Stevens in the Department of Biosciences in Exeter.  The project will run in collaboration with Dartmoor National Park Authority and the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, who are providing funding for all laboratory analysis and fieldwork.

Entry requirements: 

Applicants for this studentship must have, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science.  A driving licence would be an advantage.  The project will require fieldwork in remote places and at times the requirement to be working alone. 

Candidates for this project would be required to pay tuition fees and to cover their living costs for the duration. Tuition fees in 2016/17 will be £4,100 for UK/EU applicants and £18,000 for International applicants. A grant is available to cover 50% of UK/EU tuition fees.  

Project details can be found here.

The University of Exeter, The Queen's Drive, Exeter, Devon, UK EX4 4QJ
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