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Conservation Scientist

Reference number: A3561219

Location: Flexible

Seabirds are one of the most threatened bird groups globally and many of our seabird populations are undergoing severe declines. But at the same time, advances in technology and a growing army of citizen scientists are providing unique and novel opportunities for us to better understand their ecology and conservation needs. We are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated conservation scientist to provide maternity cover within our small team of seabird scientists, with a focus on using cutting edge research to inform seabird conservation. A key part of the role will be managing the Project Puffin (, an exciting citizen science based project which aims to understand temporal variation in puffin diet using thousands of photographs, taken over the decades and submitted by the public, of puffins carrying fish. While there is evidence suggesting that failing food resources play a key role in driving puffin declines, the existence of long-term datasets to examine their diet is scant and those that do exist generally focus on single colonies. This project will allow us quantify inter-annual changes in puffin diet across multiple colonies throughout the UK, and the extent to which these changes in diet explain historical and recent puffin population trends.

In addition, this role will contribute to our seabird science work more generally, particularly in relation to the maintenance and analysis of our extensive seabird tracking database.

Key tasks include:
- Project Management of Project Puffin, supported by a cross-departmental Project Team, ensuring milestones are met on time and to standard
- Managing our fantastic team of 12 volunteer 'Puffineers' who are trained in, and tasked with, identifying puffin prey from submitted photographs
- Being the point of contact for scientific communications related to the project and giving presentations
- Analysis of a sample of 2019 puffin diet data (to investigate and understand potential biases in the data), as well as preparatory analysis for the full dataset
- Analyses of RSPB's existing seabird tracking data and contributing to writing related scientific papers
- Maintaining our seabird tracking database and servicing external data requests
- Providing scientific support to marine policy colleagues and regional conservation staff

The ideal candidate will have experience of managing a scientific project, working with volunteers/citizen scientists, line management and excellent communication skills. They must be capable of analysing large, complex datasets and have experience in analysing diet and tracking data (or similarly structured data), preferably in R. A working knowledge of seabird ecology and marine conservation is essential. Experience of media-related communications would be an advantage. As well as being at the forefront of an exciting and novel high-profile seabird research project, there will also be opportunities for the successful candidate to support colleagues with RSPB's wider marine conservation work.

This post is to provide 12 months cover for a 0.7 part-time role. However we welcome applications from candidates who wish to apply to work the equivalent on a full time basis (i.e for 8.4 months). We are also reasonably flexible in the location of the post, although Inverness, Edinburgh, Sandy or Cambridge are our preferences. Please state your preference for full or part time working, and your prefered location in your application form.

Due to potential for the role being based in Northern Ireland and to ensure the RSPB meeting it obligations under the Fair Employment Regulation applicants should complete the attached religious background declaration.

Salary starting at

£25,463 to £27,585 per annum - Applicants should expect under normal circumstances to receive an offer at the bottom of the advertised range

Hours & contract information

Hours: Full time, Part time hours will be considered - minimum of 26.25 hours required
Contract: Maternity Cover - Fixed Term for 12 months

Closing date: 1 January 2020
Interview date: 14 January 2019

How to apply

Our job information pack and accompanying role profile tell you all about the key result areas and the skills and experience needed for the role. Please make sure you include reference number A3561219 on your application.

Role Profile (Word 123Kb, requires Microsoft Word)

Job information pack (PDF 639Kb, requires Adobe Reader)

Application details (Word 33Kb, requires Microsoft Word)

Equal opportunities form (Word 31Kb, requires Microsoft Word)

This role is covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. You will be asked to declare unspent convictions and cautions at offer of employment stage.

Who to contact

For questions about this post
Linda Wilson

Send application details to