PHD Project

October 10, 2023

How does sensory pollution affect navigation behaviour in animals?

Pyoln, Bird and night satalite image of europe at night.

Animals face many challenges as increased urbanization impacts their ability to survive and reproduce. Nowhere is this more evident than in migratory birds. Throughout Europe evidence indicates that populations of migratory birds are declining. Many anthropogenic influences are implicated, such as land use and climate change. However, recently, a new and surprising potential hazard to bird migration has emerged. A recent discovery revealed that anthropogenically produced electromagnetic noise (EMN) such as that produced by electrical items or AM radio towers disrupted normal orientation of migratory songbirds. Specifically, it was the ability to use the magnetic compass that was disrupted. Given that the ability to orient and navigate thousands of miles between breeding and winter grounds is a crucial aspect of migratory behaviour, it is imperative that we understand how this EMN impacts their ability to plot a safe migratory course in the wild. Alongside this, artificial light at night (ALAN) has the potential to disrupt the behaviour of migratory birds in a number of ways, but the effect of ALAN on bird navigation has yet to be revealed. The project will use experimental techniques to study animal behaviour in migratory and homing birds with varying access to environmental cues. Hosted in the School of Biological sciences in Bangor University utilising the pigeon facility, but with fieldwork components in Austria to study migratory birds, the project will provide training in both experimental and field based skills, statistical and ecological analysis. The successful candidate will become a highly skilled interdisciplinary graduate with skills in experimental analysis of movement behaviour, field skills in ornithology and the application of physics to biological systems.


Candidates shall be good honours graduates in appropriate subject areas, of a recognised university or comparable university, or persons holding equivalent qualifications who show evidence of exceptional ability, or who have demonstrated their ability in graduate studies. A driving licence is essential for fieldwork on homing pigeons in the UK. Experience of fieldwork on or of handling wild birds is highly desirable (although not essential).

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