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Conservation biology in human used wetlands of a decreasing waterbird species - the little bittern - ixobrychus minutus


Research objectives and content
The aim of this project is to investigate in detail the biology (breeding biology, habitat selection and feeding ecology) of a poorly known and vulnerable bird species, the Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus). The Little Bittern is a species in urgent need of protective measures. This project will identify the specific environmental requirements of the Little Bittern and the implications of human exploitation of the fresh-water marshlands which it inhabits. There is a strong conservation element to this work, since the species has been declining steadily for over 20 years throughout its range within Europe.With this in mind, the ultimate objective of this project is to develop an extensive list of guidelines for the conservation of this species in Europe. Due to problems in detecting the Little Bittern, arising from its secretive habits, this project will rely extensively on radiotelemetry techniques, which have recently been developed to enable the study of small birds. The application of this technique to the Little Bittern represents an entirely novel and potentially very powerful method for the elucidation of its biology and, consequently, for its effective conservation
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact) I am confident that at the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology in Oxford, I can get the maximum professional and scientific training. The most valuable skills that I will be learning include: I) Statistical expertise, necessary to analyse large datasets collected on the field, 2) Radio-telemetry techniques, used to follow animals in their natural habitat, and 3) Computing skills, mostly in respect to the specialised software used in this research area.
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South Parks Road
OX1 3PS Oxford
United Kingdom

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