Master by Research student wins competitive research grant from Kent Mammal Group

Kent Mammal Group raises awareness, promotes recording and study, and supports the conservation of mammals in Kent. The David Counsell Research Grant supports student-led projects that contribute towards the study and conservation of Kent’s mammals.

Corey Kirkland, a Masters by research student at the School of Biosciences, has been awarded the David Counsell Research Grant by the Kent Mammal Group for his project titled ‘Using non-invasive sampling techniques to study the genetic diversity of water voles (Arvicola amphibius) in Wildwood Trust’ under the supervision of Dr Marta Farré-Belmonte

The European water vole is the fastest declining mammal in the UK, with approximately 90% of populations lost in a century. Wildwood Trust, a wildlife park in Canterbury, are undertaking an extensive captive breeding program of the species to increase numbers, with the goal of releasing water voles back into the wild.

Corey’s project aims to understand the genetic diversity of the population at Wildwood Trust to better inform and improve the success of their breeding program. Genetic analysis of the parks water voles, specifically mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite sequences, will advance the understanding of their breeding history. Funds from this grant will go towards improving techniques of DNA extraction from non-invasive samples, such as faeces and hair, enabling Corey to minimise the disturbance of water voles during the sampling process.

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