Project proposal details

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Project title
"Rattus" or not? Biogeography, taxonomy and conservation of SE Asian and Australasian rodents
Contact name
Natalie Cooper
Project based at
Natural History Museum
Project description

The Natural History Museum has incredible collections of rodents, many of which were once classed as "rats" in the genus "Rattus". Many of these rodents are endangered and threatened by habitat loss and rising sea levels in their island habitats. However, to conserve species we first need to know what they are, and where they live. This project will allow a unique opportunity to work directly with the historical collections at NHM, helping curators to reclassify species into their correct genera, and to use information stored on the labels of these specimens to identify where these species live (or lived for older specimens). The project will identify conservation targets, as well as potentially identifying new species.

The project will be in collaboration with Roberto Portela Miguez, Senior Curator in Charge of mammals at NHM London. It will involve work in the collections and archives, and some spatial analyses in R. The exact nature of the project will depend on the data we are able to extract from these unique collections. It could also involve morphometrics, but not necessarily. It probably will need 5 months to work out what is possible, so is unlikely to be suitable for the 3.5 month projects, but it may be possible for a 2nd or 3rd project so contact me later in the year to see what the status is if interested.

For anyone not convinced of how awesome rodents are - check out cloud rats:
Additional requirements
Must be happy to use R and to handle museum specimens
Date uploaded

Project proposal limitations

The project proposer has indicated that there are some limitations to the availability of this project. It may only be available at certain times of year or suit a specific project length. It may also need skills taught to students on a particular course or courses.

Research project proposals are usually part of an active research programme. If supervisors have stated limitations to a proposal, then they are unlikely to have any flexibility. If you are very interested in the topic but have problems with the stated limitations, the supervisor may still be happy to talk to you about other options around the proposal, but you should not expect that any alternative arrangements can be made.

Project length limitations
5 months, 9 months
Suitable for
Ecology Evolution and Conservation, Conservation Science, Taxonomy and Biodiversity [NHM MSc], Biosystematics [NHM MRes]