White-faced darter (Leucorrhinia dubia) are a habitat-specialist dragonfly that are currently classified as endangered on the British Red Data list. They are of conservation concern due to low numbers across Britain and have been reintroduced to sites in England following local extinctions. The largest remaining populations are found in the Scottish Highlands. However, breeding sites are separated by large areas of unsuitable habitat and the connectivity between these sites is currently unknown. Furthermore, attempts at traditional capture-mark-recapture techniques to assess dispersal in dragonflies have led to very low recapture rates, making the method unsuitable for White-faced darter. Therefore, the development of landscape genetic techniques to assess connectivity in relation to habitat is urgently needed in this species.
This project will develop molecular techniques to facilitate landscape genetic analyses of White-faced darter, including a preliminary analysis of connectivity between two sites in Scotland. The student will use a range of molecular techniques, including DNA extraction, PCR and genotyping, and landscape genetic analyses using population genetic software, ArcGIS and Circuitscape. The results of this study will be used to form conservation recommendations with key stakeholders and to inform future White-faced dart er research.
The ideal candidate will have previous experience of laboratory work (including DNA extraction and PCR). Additional fees to support this project are required up to a maximum of £3000 (specific final cost will be confirmed and agreed prior to acceptance on the course).
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