Mollie Mills

Mollie Mills

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Mollie Mills

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Start Year

2021 (Cohort 8)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Using modern and fossil distribution data of the Dhole (Cuon alpinus, Pallas 1811) to assess niche variation, distribution dynamics and future conservation actions

Research Theme

Past Life and Environments

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Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution



The dhole (Cuon alpinus, Pallas 1811) is a medium-sized evolutionary distinct canid, currently distributed across Southeast Asia. Despite being threatened by prey depletion, habitat destruction and competition, very little is known about the dhole’s distribution and ecology. Dhole-specific conservation strategies are inadequate, if not entirely absent in all range countries. Populations reside mainly in protected areas for other charismatic species, but their adequacy for dhole conservation is undetermined. Species distribution models (SDMs) that relate georeferenced occurrence records to environmental variables could be used to identify suitable dhole conservation strategies. However, modern dhole distribution data is sparse and heavily influenced by human interactions. This could introduce bias into model projections. Incorporating the dholes Pleistocene fossil record into models could reduce the effects of environmental truncation and broaden understanding of the dholes’ ecological niche. However, bias in the dhole’s fossil records may increase uncertainly into model outputs. This PhD project aims to address these issues by (1) producing a robust and quality assured chronology of the dhole’s distribution from the Middle Pleistocene onwards, (2) quantifying the uncertainty in the dholes modern and fossil records using Bayesian approaches, and (3) assessing the contribution of fossil records to dhole ecology and conservation.

Policy Impact
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