The project, titled Studying migration patterns of UK bird populations using Bayesian nonparametric models, was proposed by Dr Eleni Matechou in collaboration with Dr Alison Johnston from the British Trust for Ornithology and Professor Jim Griffin from SMSAS.
Summary of the proposal: The PhD student on this collaborative project will develop and use novel and sophisticated statistical models, namely Bayesian nonparametric models, to understand patterns of bird migration within the UK. The data to be analysed refer to bird species that breed in the UK and spend the winter in Africa. These are collected by the BTO as part of the Constant Effort Sites (CES) monitoring scheme. The analyses will describe the migration patterns, phenology, population sizes and distribution of these species. Links between these demographic parameters and environmental covariates will be explored to explain the mechanisms leading to patterns and changes (for example, climate change leading to earlier migration). The results will also be used to inform conservation management strategies. As well as a number of scientific manuscripts describing the statistical models and the ecological processes, the student will also produce freely-available software that will be used by the BTO in the future and by any interested researchers to fit the models to their own data.