A first call for STSMs was issued on 26 June 2018 by direct mailing to the ERBFacility Management Committee and with copy to other participants in the ERBFacility 1st General Meeting.
This call provides for up to 8 STSMs for Grant Period 2 (ending 30 April 2019).
Applications under this call were required to address the scientific priorities of the ERBFacility Working Groups and take account of the preferred timing, as outlined below.
Purpose of the Summer 2018 Call
The purpose of this call is to contribute to the three scientific objectives of ERBFacility, namely:
- Objective R1: To assess current capacities for pan-European raptor biomonitoring and develop a framework for a European Raptor Biomonitoring Scheme (ERBioMS). The assessment will focus on current capabilities to detect temporal and spatial trends in contaminant exposure (and, where feasible, effects), focussing on 4-6 selected contaminants, and on identifying key areas of weakness (in the absence of coordination). Building on the insights delivered by this assessment, and on very recent research (Espin et al 2016), ERBFacility will develop an ERBioMS framework capable of delivering pan-European surveillance and monitoring of key pollutants under EU chemicals law and relevant global and regional conventions. The framework will identify, in relation to each regulation/convention, candidate raptor species and sample matrices. Development of read-across methods between species is likely to be necessary because the ranges of individual raptor species may not be pan-European and so monitoring would require measurements in complementary species.
- Objective R2: To develop a framework for a distributed European Raptor Specimen Bank (ERSpeB) for contaminant monitoring. Existing raptor specimen collections in NHMs and ESBs have only in a very few cases been made with contaminant monitoring in mind; those collections which are designed to meet contaminant monitoring needs are national in scale (e.g. UK Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme [Walker et al. 2008]). There is therefore a need to develop an ERSpeB framework to link and expand existing collections and, where appropriate, propose new regional collections, to meet ERBioMS needs.
- Objective R3: To develop a framework, standards and protocols for a European Raptor Sampling Programme (ERSamP). The ERSamP framework will provide for collection of the right raptor samples from the right locations at the right times. Standards and protocols will ensure harmonised sampling methods (not least, to minimise impacts on raptors) and harmonised recording of relevant field data (to support interpretation of contaminant exposure data in terms of effects on raptors at individual and population levels).
Scientific Priorities for the Summer 2018 Call
STSMs relating to Objective R1 (Working Groups 1 and 2: Analysis Arena)
There are two current scientific priorities for these Working Groups.
- The first priority is to assess existing capacity to detect pan-European spatial and temporal trends in the exposure of raptors to contaminants. This assessment is expected to involve literature review and meta-analysis of associated data, and will identify any weaknesses of current monitoring to detect such trends at pan-European scale. Up to two STSMs will be awarded for this priority. These two STSMs will ideally start in September or October 2018. The length of each mission is expected to be at least 90 days, although applications for longer or shorter duration will be considered. It is expected that the two missions will focus on different contaminants. Applicants may wish to select compounds from groups such as organochlorine, polybrominated or polyfluorinated compounds, toxic metals such as lead, plant protection products, biocides such as anticoagulant rodenticides, or veterinary products.
- The second priority is the identification of candidate raptor species and sample matrices that are suitable for pan-European monitoring and which will be relevant to the kinds of substances regulated for under the different EU regulations/conventions. This will involve assessment of how species taxonomy, ecology, traits and physiology interact such that read-across between species can be conducted (because the ranges of individual raptor species may not be pan-European). It also requires consideration of the practicalities of what types of sample can be collected. One STSM will be awarded for this priority. This STSM will ideally start by November 2018. It is expected to last at least 90 days, although applications for longer or shorter duration will be considered.
STSMs relating to Objective R2 (Working Group 3: Collections Arena)
There are two current scientific priorities for these Working Groups.
- The first priority is to assess the extent of existing raptor collection in Europe including the content of these collections, ongoing collection activity, available facilities for collection/storage, current provision for research access to collections and samples exchange, and current constraints to ongoing collection, storage, research access and sample exchange, as well as any existing related contaminant data. One STSM will be awarded for this priority. This STSM will ideally start in September or October 2018. The length of this mission is expected to be between 45-60 days although applications for shorter or longer duration will be considered.
- The second priority is to develop a framework for a distributed European Raptor Specimen Bank (ERSpeB) for contaminant monitoring. This framework will include consideration of: (a) collecting priorities (in relation to needs emerging from the frameworks being developed by WGs1&2); (b) potential for collections to accept new specimens from the field arena; (c) sources for new specimens (in relation to WG4 field arena); (d) storage needs; (e) potential to establish new (regional) collections; (f) enhanced provision for research access to collections; (g) measures to resolve constraints to collection, transport, storage of samples. One STSM will be awarded for this priority. This STSM will ideally start in January 2019. The length of this mission is expected to be between 45-60 days although applications for shorter or longer duration will be considered.
STSMs relating to Objective R3 (Working Group 4: Field Arena)
Working Group 4 aims to: (a) facilitate improved sample collection across Europe for the target species, sample types and geographical areas agreed as of priority for contaminant monitoring; (b) improve collection of contextual information on the individuals and populations from which these samples are derived; and (c) build capacity to collect more samples by motivating field observers to engage with the collections and analytical arenas, and providing them with the guidance and motivation they need.
The current scientific priorities of this Working Group are to:
- assess the existing and potential capacity of fieldworkers/groups that currently handle raptors (e.g. ringers) to collect suitable samples for contaminant analysis;
- assess any constraints that may hamper the collection and sharing of raptor samples (including dead birds); and
- assess current sampling practice and develop best practice guidance (appropriate to, e.g. differing species, sample types, geographical regions) for collecting raptor samples and relevant contextual (field) data for contaminant monitoring purposes.
Up to three STSMs will be awarded to address these priorities (it is hoped that each STSM will address one of the three priorities listed above). These STSMs will ideally start in September 2018. The length of each mission is expected to be between 91 and 180 days. However, applications for missions of 90 days or less will be considered.
Summer 2018 Call deadlines
Updates amending the deadlines for submission of applications were issued on 14 July and 9 August. The FINAL deadlines are:
- For the first mission relating to WG3 (review of raptor collections): Monday 20 August 2018
- For all other missions: Monday 17 September 2018
Summer 2018 Call documents
You can download below:
- the STSM Call text providing full details of the missions available and how to apply
- template Letter of Support for a STSM (from the applicant's Home Institution)
- template Letter of Interest to Host a STSM
- template Letter of Acceptance of a Scientific Report of a STSM