Research objectives and content
Spatial analys tools, namely Geographical Information Systems (G.I.S.) and remote sensing, will be applied to the study of interactions between enviromnental factors and the population dynamics of two sympatsic species, the European otter (Lutra lutra) and the introduced American mink (Mustela vison). The aim is to identifyr the causes of the recent reversal in the population trend of both species, with particular attention to the possibility of otters acting as a natural control of mink populations. Moreover the potential of spatial analysis tools as applied to the conservation and management of wild species and their habitats will be explored. The project will have numerous outputs in interdisciplinary ecological principles and applied conservation such as pest control. The ultimate purpose is to promote a better management of these two species and of their habitat.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
This project will train a zoologist to be capable of working with technologically advanced tools for spatial analysis, and to be adept with the statistical techniques required to analyse the data and to maximise information extraction. Very few zoologists have the skills to work with advanced spatial analysis tools. There is clearly a current and pressing need for such specialists in environmental and conservation ecology.