UKRI Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Woodland Expansion

Updated: 2 months ago
Location: Stirling, SCOTLAND
Job Type: Contract
Deadline: 30 Nov 2022

UKRI Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Woodland Expansion Apply
Post Details

Full time
Fixed term for 18 months

The closing date for applications is midnight on Wednesday 30 November 2022
Interviews are expected to take place on Friday 16 December 2022

There is an expectation that work will be undertaken in the UK

For the purposes of sponsorship, this is a postdoctoral role under SOC code 2119

The University of Stirling recognises that a diverse workforce benefits and enriches the work, learning and research experiences of the entire campus and greater community. We are committed to removing barriers and welcome applications from those who would contribute to further diversification of our staff and ensure that equality, diversity and inclusion is woven into the substance of the role. We strongly encourage applications from people from diverse backgrounds including gender, identity, race, age, class, and ethnicity


The Post

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral researcher to work within a new inter-disciplinary project “Stakeholder perceptions and socio-ecological consequences of Tre escape E xpansion through Pla nting and Nat ural colonisation” (TreE_PlaNat ).

Tree planting has been the most common woodland expansion strategy in the UK for many decades. Despite its many benefits, this approach is increasingly being questioned following overestimates of benefits, poor targeting and challenges in scaling-up at the level required to meet ambitious woodland expansion targets. As a result, there is growing interest in incorporating ‘natural colonisation’ (allowing trees to colonise new areas naturally, often as a component of ‘rewilding’) into woodland expansion strategies, partly because it is assumed that naturally created woodlands will be more structurally diverse, ecologically complex and resilient than planted sites. Embracing natural colonisation as a complementary approach to tree planting has the potential to radically transform UK treescapes and unlock woodland expansion at scale. These two approaches may be used in complementary and blended combinations across a landscape, depending on the local conditions and benefits expected. However, we know very little about the socio-ecological consequences of creating woodlands through approaches incorporating natural colonisation. We also have a poor understanding of land managers’ attitudes towards woodland creation approaches other than tree planting, and it is not clear which kinds of land managers do, or would, engage with woodland creation through alternative approaches incorporating natural colonisation, and why. In this project we will explore the attitudes of a diverse range of agricultural land managers towards woodland creation strategies spanning the planting to natural colonisation continuum. We will also quantify the differing ecological and social consequences of these approaches, and identify factors associated with woodland resilience. Finally, we will integrate socio-ecological evidence to demonstrate how tree planting and natural colonisation can be used in combination to scale-up woodland expansion for a range of objectives on agricultural land.

The successful applicant will work as part of a collaboration comprising ecologists and social scientists at the Universities of Stirling, Edinburgh and Royal Holloway, and Forest Research, in partnership with the Woodland Trust and National Forest, charities at the forefront of practical woodland creation and management activities. At Stirling, the PDRA will focus primarily on biodiversity and ecological function measures within woodland sites (some of which are part of a long-term research programme, the WrEN project: www.wren-project.com ). This will involve extensive fieldwork to characterise biological communities including plants, invertebrates (with a focus on moths) and vocalising animals (e.g. birds; to be characterised using bioacoustics recorders). The PDRA will also conduct ecological surveys to assess woodland condition, record evidence of tree disease and quantify herbivory damage, and lead on experiments to assess predation pressure on insect herbivores.

Enquiries to Dr Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor (elisa.fuentes-montemayor@stir.ac.uk )

We will actively consider flexible working options such as compressed or flexible hours and/or an element of home-working.

This is an 18th month post available from 1st February 2023 until 31st July 2024.


Description of Duties

The successful applicant will be responsible for:

  • Leading fieldwork to collect data on plant and invertebrate communities in woodland sites. They will also be responsible for deployment of recorders and analysis of acoustic data (e.g. to derive acoustic indices and identify key bird woodland indicator species from a subset of recordings), and for setting up experiments to quantify predation pressure on insects. Fieldwork will take place primarily in central Scotland and the Midlands in England
  • Conducting statistical analyses to quantify the effects of key woodland attributes (e.g. establishment method, structural complexity, surrounding agricultural land use) on response metrics
  • Taking the lead in writing scientific papers
  • Liaising with landowners/managers (e.g. for site access arrangements).
  • Managing field assistants and student volunteers
  • Attending regular meetings and communicating with the research team
  • Presenting findings at academic conferences and public engagement events


Essential Criteria

Qualifications

  • Completed (or very close to completion) PhD in ecology or other relevant discipline

Other essential criteria:

  • Proven track record of ecological field skills with expertise in species identification of one or more taxonomic groups (plants and/or moths)
  • Excellent quantitative research and data analysis skills, including proficiency in the statistical programme R
  • Experience of using and manipulating spatial data in GIS or R
  • Track record in publishing peer reviewed papers
  • Evidence of good administrative and project management skills
  • Evidence of excellent oral and written communication skills, able to work effectively. as part of a multi-disciplinary team
  • Evidence of self-motivation and the ability to work independently
  • Time management skills including ability to prioritise workload


Desirable Criteria

  • Knowledge of/experience with bioacoustics and analytical approaches for characterising soundscapes
  • Knowledge of woodland ecology and ecosystem restoration
  • Experience of working with large datasets


Behaviours and Competencies

The role holder will be required to evidence that they can meet the qualities associated with the following behavioural competencies, as detailed within the AUA Competency Framework.

  • Managing self and personal skills
    Being aware of your own behaviour and mindful of how it impacts on others, enhancing personal skills to adapt professional practice accordingly.
  • Delivering excellent service
    Providing the best quality service to external and internal clients. Building genuine and open long-term relationships in order to drive up service standards.
  • Finding solutions
    Taking a holistic view and working enthusiastically to analyse problems and to develop workable solutions. Identifying opportunities for innovation.
  • Embracing change
    Being open to and engaging with new ideas and ways of working. Adjusting to unfamiliar situations, shifting demands and changing roles.
  • Using resources effectively
    Identifying and making the most productive use of resources including people, time, information, networks and budgets.
  • Engaging with the wider context
    Enhancing your contribution to the organisation through an understanding of the bigger picture and showing commitment to organisational values.
  • Developing self and others
    Showing commitment to own ongoing professional development. Supporting and encouraging others to develop their professional knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable them to reach their full potential.
  • Working together
    Working collaboratively with others in order to achieve objectives. Recognising and valuing the different contributions people bring to this process.
  • Achieving Results
    Consistently meeting agreed objectives and success criteria. Taking personal responsibility for getting things done.

  • About Us

    The Faculty of Natural Sciences (FNS) encompasses the Divisions of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Computing Science and Mathematics, Psychology and the Institute of Aquaculture. FNS is a distinctive academic arena where new fundamental understandings of the complex and challenging inter-relationships between human behaviours, technologies, biological and environmental systems are created, explored and tested. The most recent national assessment of research - REF2021 -confirmed that 80% of our research is classed as world leading and internationally excellent. It is supported through UK Research Councils, European Union and a range of research charities We work with businesses and public service organisations both at home and overseas to achieve direct and positive outcomes for society across a range of critical problems. Substantial investment aligned with the City, Region, and Growth deals is supporting major new infrastructure developments linked to the Faculty including Scotland’s International Environment Centre and the National Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Hub.

    Biological and Environmental Sciences (BES)
    Our research interests are broad, ranging from conservation and evolutionary ecology to environmental processes including carbon and nutrient cycling, aquatic and catchment sciences, landscape and forest ecology, evolutionary biology, environment and human health, energy and environmental sustainability. Research activities are led by principal investigators who seek to understand the fundamental processes driving the evolution and maintenance of the natural environment and its interactions with human populations. We develop and exploit a range of technologies from Earth observation through to molecular techniques to understand how environments function and ecosystems are impacted from local to global scales and over annual to millennial timescales. Our research and impacts are found in all continents of the world and position us as a leading institution in Environmental Protection and Biological Conservation. In REF2021 all 100% of our research was rated as having either outstanding or very considerable impact.


    The University

    The University of Stirling is committed to providing education with a purpose and carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions and helping to shape society. Stirling is 4th in Scotland and 43rd in the UK for research impact, with 87% of its research having an outstanding or very considerable impact on society – and more than 80% rated either world leading or internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework 2021). Interdisciplinary in its approach, Stirling’s research informs its teaching curriculum and facilitates opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between staff, students, industry partners and the wider community.

    The University of Stirling is ranked among the top 30 UK universities for student satisfaction (National Student Survey) and top 10 in the UK for postgraduate student experience (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey), and has an overall five-star rating in the QS Stars University Ratings.

    More than 17,000 students study with the University of Stirling globally, with over 120 nationalities represented on its scenic central Scotland campus alone. The campus – also home to 1,700 staff – has its own loch and castle, and a recent multi-million-pound redevelopment has delivered modern, flexible, and digitally connected study and social spaces at the heart of campus, including enhanced student support and retail and catering outlets.

    The University has twice been recognised with a Queen's Anniversary Prize – the first for its Institute for Social Marketing and Health (2014) and the second for its Institute of Aquaculture (2019). Stirling is Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence and its recently redeveloped world-class facilities provide the perfect training environment for the University’s sports scholars – many of whom compete at the highest level, including at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games – and for students, staff, and the wider community.

    As a signatory to the £214 million Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, the University is driving productivity and inclusive growth across the Forth Valley, and beyond. Through pioneering collaborative solutions to global challenges, researchers are putting innovation, skills, and partnership at the heart of a sustainable economic recovery.
    www.stir.ac.uk @stiruni


    Job number

    FAC01645
    Contract Type

    Fixed Term Contract
    Closing date

    30-Nov-2022
    Location:

    Stirling Campus
    Grade

    Grade7 £35,333-£42,155 p.a.
    Faculty/Service

    Faculty of Natural Sciences

    Post Details

    Full time
    Fixed term for 18 months

    The closing date for applications is midnight on Wednesday 30 November 2022
    Interviews are expected to take place on Friday 16 December 2022

    There is an expectation that work will be undertaken in the UK

    For the purposes of sponsorship, this is a postdoctoral role under SOC code 2119

    The University of Stirling recognises that a diverse workforce benefits and enriches the work, learning and research experiences of the entire campus and greater community. We are committed to removing barriers and welcome applications from those who would contribute to further diversification of our staff and ensure that equality, diversity and inclusion is woven into the substance of the role. We strongly encourage applications from people from diverse backgrounds including gender, identity, race, age, class, and ethnicity


    The Post

    Applications are invited for a postdoctoral researcher to work within a new inter-disciplinary project “Stakeholder perceptions and socio-ecological consequences of Tre escape E xpansion through Pla nting and Nat ural colonisation” (TreE_PlaNat ).

    Tree planting has been the most common woodland expansion strategy in the UK for many decades. Despite its many benefits, this approach is increasingly being questioned following overestimates of benefits, poor targeting and challenges in scaling-up at the level required to meet ambitious woodland expansion targets. As a result, there is growing interest in incorporating ‘natural colonisation’ (allowing trees to colonise new areas naturally, often as a component of ‘rewilding’) into woodland expansion strategies, partly because it is assumed that naturally created woodlands will be more structurally diverse, ecologically complex and resilient than planted sites. Embracing natural colonisation as a complementary approach to tree planting has the potential to radically transform UK treescapes and unlock woodland expansion at scale. These two approaches may be used in complementary and blended combinations across a landscape, depending on the local conditions and benefits expected. However, we know very little about the socio-ecological consequences of creating woodlands through approaches incorporating natural colonisation. We also have a poor understanding of land managers’ attitudes towards woodland creation approaches other than tree planting, and it is not clear which kinds of land managers do, or would, engage with woodland creation through alternative approaches incorporating natural colonisation, and why. In this project we will explore the attitudes of a diverse range of agricultural land managers towards woodland creation strategies spanning the planting to natural colonisation continuum. We will also quantify the differing ecological and social consequences of these approaches, and identify factors associated with woodland resilience. Finally, we will integrate socio-ecological evidence to demonstrate how tree planting and natural colonisation can be used in combination to scale-up woodland expansion for a range of objectives on agricultural land.

    The successful applicant will work as part of a collaboration comprising ecologists and social scientists at the Universities of Stirling, Edinburgh and Royal Holloway, and Forest Research, in partnership with the Woodland Trust and National Forest, charities at the forefront of practical woodland creation and management activities. At Stirling, the PDRA will focus primarily on biodiversity and ecological function measures within woodland sites (some of which are part of a long-term research programme, the WrEN project: www.wren-project.com ). This will involve extensive fieldwork to characterise biological communities including plants, invertebrates (with a focus on moths) and vocalising animals (e.g. birds; to be characterised using bioacoustics recorders). The PDRA will also conduct ecological surveys to assess woodland condition, record evidence of tree disease and quantify herbivory damage, and lead on experiments to assess predation pressure on insect herbivores.

    Enquiries to Dr Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor (elisa.fuentes-montemayor@stir.ac.uk )

    We will actively consider flexible working options such as compressed or flexible hours and/or an element of home-working.

    This is an 18th month post available from 1st February 2023 until 31st July 2024.


    Description of Duties

    The successful applicant will be responsible for:

    • Leading fieldwork to collect data on plant and invertebrate communities in woodland sites. They will also be responsible for deployment of recorders and analysis of acoustic data (e.g. to derive acoustic indices and identify key bird woodland indicator species from a subset of recordings), and for setting up experiments to quantify predation pressure on insects. Fieldwork will take place primarily in central Scotland and the Midlands in England
    • Conducting statistical analyses to quantify the effects of key woodland attributes (e.g. establishment method, structural complexity, surrounding agricultural land use) on response metrics
    • Taking the lead in writing scientific papers
    • Liaising with landowners/managers (e.g. for site access arrangements).
    • Managing field assistants and student volunteers
    • Attending regular meetings and communicating with the research team
    • Presenting findings at academic conferences and public engagement events


    Essential Criteria

    Qualifications

    • Completed (or very close to completion) PhD in ecology or other relevant discipline

    Other essential criteria:

    • Proven track record of ecological field skills with expertise in species identification of one or more taxonomic groups (plants and/or moths)
    • Excellent quantitative research and data analysis skills, including proficiency in the statistical programme R
    • Experience of using and manipulating spatial data in GIS or R
    • Track record in publishing peer reviewed papers
    • Evidence of good administrative and project management skills
    • Evidence of excellent oral and written communication skills, able to work effectively. as part of a multi-disciplinary team
    • Evidence of self-motivation and the ability to work independently
    • Time management skills including ability to prioritise workload


    Desirable Criteria

    • Knowledge of/experience with bioacoustics and analytical approaches for characterising soundscapes
    • Knowledge of woodland ecology and ecosystem restoration
    • Experience of working with large datasets


    Behaviours and Competencies

    The role holder will be required to evidence that they can meet the qualities associated with the following behavioural competencies, as detailed within the AUA Competency Framework.

  • Managing self and personal skills
    Being aware of your own behaviour and mindful of how it impacts on others, enhancing personal skills to adapt professional practice accordingly.
  • Delivering excellent service
    Providing the best quality service to external and internal clients. Building genuine and open long-term relationships in order to drive up service standards.
  • Finding solutions
    Taking a holistic view and working enthusiastically to analyse problems and to develop workable solutions. Identifying opportunities for innovation.
  • Embracing change
    Being open to and engaging with new ideas and ways of working. Adjusting to unfamiliar situations, shifting demands and changing roles.
  • Using resources effectively
    Identifying and making the most productive use of resources including people, time, information, networks and budgets.
  • Engaging with the wider context
    Enhancing your contribution to the organisation through an understanding of the bigger picture and showing commitment to organisational values.
  • Developing self and others
    Showing commitment to own ongoing professional development. Supporting and encouraging others to develop their professional knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable them to reach their full potential.
  • Working together
    Working collaboratively with others in order to achieve objectives. Recognising and valuing the different contributions people bring to this process.
  • Achieving Results
    Consistently meeting agreed objectives and success criteria. Taking personal responsibility for getting things done.

  • About Us

    The Faculty of Natural Sciences (FNS) encompasses the Divisions of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Computing Science and Mathematics, Psychology and the Institute of Aquaculture. FNS is a distinctive academic arena where new fundamental understandings of the complex and challenging inter-relationships between human behaviours, technologies, biological and environmental systems are created, explored and tested. The most recent national assessment of research - REF2021 -confirmed that 80% of our research is classed as world leading and internationally excellent. It is supported through UK Research Councils, European Union and a range of research charities We work with businesses and public service organisations both at home and overseas to achieve direct and positive outcomes for society across a range of critical problems. Substantial investment aligned with the City, Region, and Growth deals is supporting major new infrastructure developments linked to the Faculty including Scotland’s International Environment Centre and the National Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Hub.

    Biological and Environmental Sciences (BES)
    Our research interests are broad, ranging from conservation and evolutionary ecology to environmental processes including carbon and nutrient cycling, aquatic and catchment sciences, landscape and forest ecology, evolutionary biology, environment and human health, energy and environmental sustainability. Research activities are led by principal investigators who seek to understand the fundamental processes driving the evolution and maintenance of the natural environment and its interactions with human populations. We develop and exploit a range of technologies from Earth observation through to molecular techniques to understand how environments function and ecosystems are impacted from local to global scales and over annual to millennial timescales. Our research and impacts are found in all continents of the world and position us as a leading institution in Environmental Protection and Biological Conservation. In REF2021 all 100% of our research was rated as having either outstanding or very considerable impact.


    The University

    The University of Stirling is committed to providing education with a purpose and carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions and helping to shape society. Stirling is 4th in Scotland and 43rd in the UK for research impact, with 87% of its research having an outstanding or very considerable impact on society – and more than 80% rated either world leading or internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework 2021). Interdisciplinary in its approach, Stirling’s research informs its teaching curriculum and facilitates opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between staff, students, industry partners and the wider community.

    The University of Stirling is ranked among the top 30 UK universities for student satisfaction (National Student Survey) and top 10 in the UK for postgraduate student experience (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey), and has an overall five-star rating in the QS Stars University Ratings.

    More than 17,000 students study with the University of Stirling globally, with over 120 nationalities represented on its scenic central Scotland campus alone. The campus – also home to 1,700 staff – has its own loch and castle, and a recent multi-million-pound redevelopment has delivered modern, flexible, and digitally connected study and social spaces at the heart of campus, including enhanced student support and retail and catering outlets.

    The University has twice been recognised with a Queen's Anniversary Prize – the first for its Institute for Social Marketing and Health (2014) and the second for its Institute of Aquaculture (2019). Stirling is Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence and its recently redeveloped world-class facilities provide the perfect training environment for the University’s sports scholars – many of whom compete at the highest level, including at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games – and for students, staff, and the wider community.

    As a signatory to the £214 million Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, the University is driving productivity and inclusive growth across the Forth Valley, and beyond. Through pioneering collaborative solutions to global challenges, researchers are putting innovation, skills, and partnership at the heart of a sustainable economic recovery.
    www.stir.ac.uk @stiruni


    Back To Job List Email a friend Print Apply

    View or Apply

    Similar Positions