Catch-up with the latest news and insights on education in the UK.

News

University of Aberdeen spinout success
Wed
21
Jul 2021

The University of Aberdeen has been ranked 10th in the UK for life sciences spinouts by business analyst organisation Beauhurst.

Beauhurst ranked all UK universities according to the number of successful spinouts and the University of Aberdeen came in at joint 10th place with 11 successful active spinouts in life sciences.    

In the analysis, over 1,500 spinouts from academic institutions in the UK were identified and verified, almost a third of which were found to be operating within the life sciences sector. Of these, 62 have gone on to providing an exit to their shareholders, and 77 have folded, leaving 286 active, private, and ambitious life sciences spinouts.  

Beauhurst credit the University of Aberdeen with being known for producing spinout companies across a variety of sectors, ‘representing the diverse range of research it supports’. The independent data analysts also acknowledge the Impact and Knowledge Exchange Team within Research and Innovation, highlighting the help it provides inventors to assess the exploitation routes for University IP, either by licensing, collaborative developments with industry, or spinout company formation. The team offers support at each stage of the spinout process.  

Elizabeth Rattray, Director of Research and Innovation at the University said: “We are delighted to be ranked 10th place in Beauhurst’s table. The University has an excellent reputation for producing and nurturing innovative spinouts and this is a credit to the Research and Innovation team who support these businesses to branch out into industry.   

“This success provides an excellent foundation to build on, with the aim of increasing the number of spin-outs and starts ups to support our region’s economy.  The new BioHub, currently under construction at the Foresterhill Campus through Opportunity North East, NHS Grampian and the Aberdeen Region City Deal is further support for growing the Life science sector within our region.”  

Two of the most successful life sciences companies within the University’s portfolio named by Beauhurst include TauRx Pharmaceuticals and NovaBiotics.  TauRx Pharmaceuticals is a leading pharma company in the field of research in neurodegenerative diseases, specifically, Alzheimer’s. As part of its clinical research, it is currently running a phase three clinical trial to confirm its drug’s role in slowing down the disease. NovaBiotics is a leading clinical-stage biotechnology company, focused on designing and developing treatments for medically unmet diseases in the inflammation, infection, and respiratory space. This year, it was named as one of Scotland’s top ten biotech companies to watch out for in Labiotech. 


Bradford eye experts collaborate with gaming giant
Wed
21
Jul 2021

The School of Optometry & Vision Science at the University are collaborating with MSI, looking at the digital eye strain of gamers using two different MSI monitors.

The study involves asking participants to play a video game on the different screens on different days with vision checks taking place before and after they play. These checks include an assessment of vision, low contrast clarity, the ability to focus at near tasks, a scan of the back and front of the eye and an assessment of the quality and quantity of tears.

“I think it’s important that we investigate screen use, and new technologies such as curved screens” says Dr Ghorbani Mojarrad, Lecturer in Optometry and lead on the study. “What will be interesting is whether people’s preference will correlate with the effects on eye health, and whether the shape of a screen can reduce the impact of prolonged screen time.”

The results from the study will be released in September 2021, with Dr Ghorbani Mojarrad hoping they inspire further research in this area. “After the covid-19 pandemic we know screen use has increased by 61% with more people gaming and working from home and screen use in the future only likely to increase. The ability to use technology to try and avoid or reduce symptoms of any eye problems would be amazing.”

New research shows cryptographic vulnerabilities on popular messaging platform, Telegram
Fri
16
Jul 2021

Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London are part of a team who have completed a substantial security analysis of the encryption protocol used by the popular messaging platform, Telegram, with over half a billion monthly active users.

Cryptography is the science protecting information from eavesdropping or tampering. We use it every day when we browse the web, make a bank transaction or chat on WhatsApp or Telegram. Cryptographers secure computer and information technology systems by creating and studying, for example, algorithms for encryption or for digital signatures.

As a result of their work, the researchers found several cryptographic weaknesses in the protocol that ranged from technically trivial and easy to exploit, to more advanced.

The team included Chair of Information Security and Director of the Cryptography Group, Professor Martin Albrecht and PhD researcher, Lenka Mareková, from the Information Security Group (ISG) at Royal Holloway, along with Professor Kenneth G. Paterson and Dr Igors Stepanovs, from the Applied Cryptography Group at ETH Zurich.

Talking about the findings, Professor Martin Albrecht, said: “The results from our analysis show that for most users, the immediate risk is low, but these vulnerabilities highlight that prior to our work, Telegram fell short of the cryptographic guarantees given by other deployed cryptographic protocols such as Transport Layer Security (TLS).”

TLS is a cryptographic protocol designed to provide communications security over a computer network and is widely used in applications such as web browsing, instant messaging and email.

He added: “Our work was motivated by other research we have recently done in the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway, which examined the use of technology by participants in large-scale protests such as those seen in 2019/2020 in Hong Kong. Our findings were that protesters critically relied on Telegram to coordinate their activities, but that Telegram had not received a security check from cryptographers.”

Telegram uses its bespoke ‘MTProto’ protocol to secure communication between its users and its servers as a replacement for the industry standard TLS protocol.

By default, Telegram only offers a basic level of protection by encrypting traffic between clients and servers. In contrast, end-to-end encryption, which would protect communication also from the prying eyes of Telegram employees or anyone who breaks into Telegram's servers, is only optional and not available for group chats. Since prior research indicated that many users in higher risk environments rely on these group chats, the research team focussed their efforts on the use of MTProto to secure communication between Telegram clients and servers.

For more information on the vulnerabilities that were discovered

However, the results also show that Telegram’s MTProto can provide security comparable to TLS after the changes suggested by the research team were adopted and if special care is taken when implementing the protocol. The Telegram developers have told the research team that they have adopted these changes.

This good news comes with significant caveats:

  1. Cryptographic protocols like MTProto are built from cryptographic building blocks such as hash functions, block ciphers and public-key encryption. In a formal security analysis, the security of the protocol is reduced to the security of its building blocks. This is no different to arguing that a car is road safe if its tires, brakes and indicator lights are fully functional. In the case of Telegram, the security requirements on the building blocks are unusual and because of this, these requirements have not been studied in previous research. Other cryptographic protocols such as TLS do not have to rely on these special assumptions.
  2. The researchers only studied three official Telegram clients and no third-party clients. However, some of these third-party clients have substantial user bases. Here, the brittleness of the MTProto protocol is a cause for concern if the developers of these third-party clients are likely to make mistakes in implementing the protocol in a way that avoids, e.g. the timing leaks mentioned above. Alternative design choices for MTProto would have made the task significantly easier for the developers.


New research suggests infectious viruses and bacteria carry memories
Wed
14
Jul 2021

A new study has revealed that viruses and bacteria may carry memories of infections they’ve created in the past, and can use these memories to their advantage.

By exploring transmission patterns of infections, researchers found that pathogens that remember the sex of hosts they had infected can make their current host sicker. In doing so, they improve their own transmission.

This new research, resulting from an international collaboration among Royal Holloway, University of London (UK), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France) and The University of Western Ontario (Canada), indicates that complex patterns of infection virulence in measles, chickenpox and polio - which have previously defied medical explanation - may be clarified by considering the effect of natural selection acting on pathogens that can remember their past.

Led by Dr Francisco Úbeda, Reader in the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, the work applies its findings to understand the medical puzzle of why in many childhood diseases (in particular measles, chickenpox and polio) infections from the opposite sex were more likely to cause extreme reactions or death than infections from a member of the same sex. In principle, there is no reason why such patterns could not be observed in other infectious diseases.

Their research focused on the establishment of epigenetic memories, which are transient marks on genes themselves. While these marks do not alter the DNA, they alter the way in which DNA is expressed. Their research shows that epigenetic memories of the sex of the previous host are favoured when they give pathogens clues about the sex of the host they are currently infecting, or the sex of the host they will be infecting in the future.

This research, with the support of more empirical work, opens the possibility of using epigenetic therapies to make pathogens express their least aggressive behaviour by tampering with their memories. The work, published in Nature Communications, predicts the outcome of helping pathogens forget their past.

Dr Francisco Úbeda of Royal Holloway said: “It has been observed that boys in developing countries are less likely to survive measles when they acquire their infection from a girl. Similarly, girls are less likely to survive these infections when they acquire their infection from a boy.

“Given that humans form a key part of a microbe’s environment, it is possible that the chain of infection – from one person to another – establishes a memory that changes the expression of microbial DNA in a way that could ultimately make us sicker. Given that our sex can affect the way in which our immune system functions, it makes sense that sex is an environmental variable that microbes may wish to track.”


Hallam joins research network to explore how robots can support frail elderly
Mon
12
Jul 2021

Sheffield Hallam University has joined a new research network exploring how healthcare robots could support people living with frailty in the community

The EMERGENCE network aims to bring healthcare robotics out of the lab and into the real-world, exploring how they can support people to better manage the conditions that result from frailty themselves and, by providing information and data to healthcare practitioners, enable more timely interventions.

The project, which has received a £700,000 NetworkPlus grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, brings together researchers from Sheffield Hallam University’s department of computing and the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, University of the West of England Bristol, The University of Sheffield, Heriot Watt University and the University of Hertfordshire.

Each university will collaborate with their regional Academic Health Science Networks, care commissioning groups, Integrated Care Systems, hospital trusts, as well as residential and community care providers and local authority councils.

In addition to their healthcare partners, the network also has on board robotic companies such as Consequential, Cyberselves, and PAL Robotics and Skills for Care UK, the strategic body for workforce development in adult social care in England, who will advise on understanding future skills development requirements.

Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly, from the University of West England Bristol, who is leading the network said: “Healthcare robots are increasingly recognised as solutions in helping people improve independent living, by having the ability to offer physical assistance as well as supporting complex self-management and healthcare tasks when integrated with patient data.

“The network’s goal will be to galvanise patient-focused healthcare robotics research and knowledge exchange, ensuring increased uptake by facilitating health and social care, industrial and academic experts to come together in solving real-world challenges of supporting people with frailty, knowledge which can be extended to other patient groups.

Alessandro Di Nuovo, professor of machine intelligence at Sheffield Hallam University, who is leading the co-creation of robotics solutions said: “We will nurture co-designed research to help lead to novel technologies capable of transforming how frailty is managed in the community. Up to 10 funded feasibility pilot studies will drive co-designed, high quality research that will lead to technologies capable of transforming community health and care.

The pandemic’s mental toll: new survey finds one in five suffer from Covid-19 Anxiety Syndrome
Tue
6
Jul 2021

The study shows that many people still find it difficult to disengage from the Covid-19 threats which may make returning to daily life difficult as restrictions ease

Covid-19 Anxiety Syndrome is still causing many people to struggle with reintegrating into daily life, even with most Covid-19 restrictions in England expected to lift from July 19, according to new research led by LSBU.

The new UK-wide survey of 975 people, conducted in late June, found:

  • 40% strongly reported avoiding touching things in public spaces because of a fear of the virus;
  • 30% strongly reported avoiding public transport because of a fear of contracting the virus;
  • 23% strongly reported avoiding going out to public places because of a fear of the virus;
  • 25% strongly reported paying close attention to others displaying possible symptoms of the virus;
  • One in five people scored highly on Covid-19 Anxiety Syndrome scale.

Loss of a family member due to Covid-19 was predictive of higher levels of Covid-19 Anxiety Syndrome. Age, gender, and vaccination status were not found to be predictors.

Professor Marcantonio Spada from LSBU’s Centre for Addictive Behaviours and Professor Ana Nikčević from Kingston University first identified the concept of Covid-19 Anxiety Syndrome in April 2020. Their research found that people were developing a particular set of behaviours as a result of their fear of the virus, and they conducted the current study in collaboration with Professor Ian Albery from LSBU’s Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research.

Covid-19 Anxiety Syndrome consists of forms of coping such as a constant attention to threat, worry, avoidance and excessive checking, that can keep people locked into a state of continuous anxiety and fear of contracting the virus.

Professor Marcantonio Spada, Professor of Addictive Behaviours and Mental Health at LSBU, said, “Our data indicates that after one month of re-opening of society many people are still struggling with aspects of Covid-19 Anxiety Syndrome, a similar figure to what we previously observed during full lockdown. This means that there are still many people who find it difficult to disengage from the Covid-19 threats which may make return to normal daily living harder as restrictions ease.

“Our new findings show how vital it is that people affected by ‘Covid-19 Anxiety Syndrome’ receive support. Mapping out how we will do this will become a priority for mental health service providers.”

Prestigious award to fund research into human health and disease
Tue
6
Jul 2021

Researcher, Dr Christopher Stewart, has received the prestigious Lister Institute Research Prize Fellowship to help further his important work into human health and disease.

Dr Stewart, who is a Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellow in the Translational and Clinical Research Institute at Newcastle University, will receive £1,136,115 to support his research for five years into microbiome and host responses in human health and disease.

Stem cell development

With the Lister Prize fund, he will engineer and test new models systems that incorporate stem cell derived “mini guts” from across the life course, with a particular focus on those from babies born prematurely. Understanding more about the interaction between diet, microbe, and host will be critical for developing new and effective therapies for preterm infants.

Dr Stewart said: “I am incredibly grateful and could not be happier to have been awarded the 2021 Lister Institute Research Prize.

“At this stage of my career to receive such a prestigious award in recognition of my research means so much to me. It is ultimately a reflection of all the many individuals who have supported and encouraged me over the years.

“I am excited to interact the other Lister Institute Research Prize Fellows past and present, which will provide an invaluable network for me as I continue to build my research group.

“I am also delighted the funds will provide support to employ technical assistance in my lab and greatly help to drive forward novel and exciting elements of work, allowing me to build upon my researched focused on reducing disease in preterm infants.”

Lister Institute Research Prize Fellowship

The Fellowships are one-off awards which help to support and nurture future leaders in biomedical research. These awards are for those in the early stages of their career.

Dr Stewart was part of a rigorous application process which placed him in competition with many young career researchers from across the country. Up to seven prizes are given each year following a written application process and subsequent interview with members of the Lister Institute’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

Professor John Iredale, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee, who leads the task of deciding who wins the Lister Institute Research Prize, said: “Despite all of the challenges that the current pandemic has made to our young researchers, we had a large number of extremely high-quality applications.”

PHD STUDENT WINS SWANSEA UNIVERSITY THREE MINUTE THESIS COMPETITION WITH RESEARCH INTO COMBATTING MS
Mon
5
Jul 2021

A PhD student from Swansea University Medical School has won the Swansea University Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Kristen Hawkins, studying a PhD in Neuroscience, fought off competition from across the University with her presentation "Brain Wars" on her research into combatting Multiple sclerosis.

Established by the University of Queensland in 2008, 3MT is an international competition held at over 200 universities worldwide.

Open to PhD students, the competition challenges participants to present their research in just three minutes and in the form of a single static PowerPoint slide that can be understood by an audience, who, although intelligent, have no background in the research area.

Swansea University is one of around 70 UK-based institutions that now form part of this global network, encouraging postgraduate research students to promote their research and enthusiasm for their chosen topic to reach non-specialist audiences.

3MT is designed to showcase, to various audiences, the excellent quality and diversity of research undertaken by postgraduate research students at Swansea University and its relevancy and impact upon the world.

Speaking about her success in the competition so far, Kristen said: "The 3MT experience has been great. Three minutes isn't very long, which makes you really think about which aspects of your work are most relevant and appealing to a wider audience."

Professor Gert Aarts Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor, Postgraduate Research, said: "This year's entrants were particularly impressive and more than overcame the challenge of presenting virtually.

"In a tough field, Kristen's passionate and engaging presentation on her research shone through, and I'm delighted she'll be representing Swansea on the national stage."

Kristen will now progress to the 3MT UK quarter-finals and will be in with the chance of presenting in the 3MT UK online Final in September, hosted by Vitae, the global leader in researcher development.

PEOPLE LIVING WITH OBESITY ‘STRUGGLING WITH THEIR WEIGHT IN SILENCE’
Fri
2
Jul 2021

People living with obesity in the UK take an average of nine years to speak to a doctor about their weight struggles - according to new research involving the University of East Anglia.

A new study published in the journal BMJ Open shows that only around half (47 per cent) of people living with obesity have discussed their weight with their doctor in the last five years.

And it reveals the need for a significant change to address the delay between people’s initial struggles with weight and discussions with a doctor for help.   

Dr Helen Parretti from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Obesity is one of the biggest health challenges in the UK, however weight management services currently exist as part of a fragmented health and social care system. 

“Nearly two thirds of people in the UK are living with either overweight or obesityand obesity levels have almost doubled since 1993.”

“Obesity is a complex disease and a risk factor for several other chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, and it has also been linked to poorer mental health. 

“But with a limited range of services and treatments available, compounded by limited consultation times for UK GPs, doctors have been very restricted on what they could offer those living with obesity.

“We wanted to find out more about the perceptions, attitudes, behaviours and barriers to effective obesity care.” 

The Awareness, Care, and Treatment In Obesity MaNagement (ACTION) IO survey involved 1,500 people living with obesity in the UK and 306 healthcare professionals.

The team found that instead of seeking help, most (85 per cent) of the survey cohort took full responsibility for their own weight loss.

However, a smaller proportion of doctors (33 per cent) placed the responsibility for weight loss on people living with obesity – demonstrating a recognition for the important role doctors can play in supporting weight management. 

Lead author Dr Carly A Hughes, GP at Fakenham Weight Management Service and an honorary lecturer at UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “People living with obesity are faced with biological, societal and environmental factors that contribute to obesity, weight stigma, and discrimination. 

“This survey has revealed that many people struggle with their weight for years without asking for help from a doctor and think that they are mainly responsible for managing their weight, despite the Royal College of Physicians and the World Health Organisation now recognising obesity as a disease.  

“In contrast, doctors do think that they have a role to play in weight management but in some cases do not introduce the conversation because they incorrectly believe that people with obesity are not interested or motivated to lose weight. 

“Primary care is the gateway to effective weight management services in the UK, so an empathetic conversation about weight is crucial to engaging people with appropriate services. 

“This survey shows that we must ensure greater access to effective treatments and weight management services for people living with obesity by continuing to remove the barriers to support and challenge the misconceptions amongst healthcare professionals and wider society.”

Dr Helen Parretti said: “We also found that three quarters of the healthcare professionals we surveyed cited obesity-related comorbidities as the main reason to initiate a discussion about weight management with patients.

“Healthcare professionals also reported perceptions that their patients would lack interest and motivation to lose weight, as top reasons for not discussing weight earlier.” 

“But following a weight loss conversation with n health care professional, just over a third of people said they felt supported, 31 per cent were hopeful and 23 per cent felt motivated. But 17 per cent still felt embarrassed.”

Ulster University announces 50 Master’s Degree Studentships for upcoming academic year
Thu
1
Jul 2021

Ulster University is offering 50 new Master’s Degree studentships for 2021/22, made possible by funding from the Department for the Economy.

Funded through the Department’s Postgraduate Award Scheme, each student undertaking the one year taught Master's programme will have their fees paid and receive a £10,000 bursary payment.

The Bursaries will help to deliver the vital skills needed to enable a range of sectors to respond to and emerge from the pandemic, support confident economic recovery and build rewarding careers.

Reflecting the priorities in the Department for the Economy’s 10X Economy Vision, and the ambitions of the transformational City Deals for Belfast and the North West, the courses offered are aligned to exciting and progressive opportunities for growth and recovery in key sectors including:

  • Digital, ICT and Artificial Intelligence
  • Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering
  • Personalised Medicine, Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Geographical Information Systems
  • Fashion and Retail Management
  • Animation
  • Digital Marketing Communication
  • Leadership.

Across each of these diverse sectors, the eligible Master’s programmes will deliver a rich postgraduate student learning experience, informed by the University’s expertise and its many industry partnerships to support students to be set up for success in their chosen field.

Professor Brian Murphy, Interim Dean, Academic Business Development at Ulster University said,

“We are delighted to offer these fully-funded studentships that will open up opportunities for students who may otherwise be unable to take up a Master’s programme for financial reasons. The programmes will provide highly-skilled, industry-ready graduates across a range of sectors as they recover and grow following the pandemic.”

Economy Minister Paul Frew said:

“I am very pleased to see Ulster University rolling out this programme of Master’s degree studentships and associated bursaries, funded by my Department. This initiative is particularly welcome in Northern Ireland’s centenary year as we look ahead.

“These funded studentships and bursaries will support the pipeline of skills the economy needs as we recover from the pandemic, and also support the skills policy objectives set out in my Department’s 10X Economic vision.

“I urge anyone who is interested and eligible to apply for this excellent opportunity.”

The bursaries are part of a package of up to £1.8million in funding for 100 bursaries for additional Master’s courses in 2021/22 administered by Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast.

Dundee comic book artists illustrate diverse range of creative careers
Thu
1
Jul 2021

Two University of Dundee graduates are challenging stereotypes surrounding careers in creative industries in their newest comic venture.

Ashling Larkin and Cat Laird, both graduates of the University’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD), plan to launch their second comic anthology ‘Working In: The Arts’ in September following a successful Kickstarter campaign.

The collaborative comic includes interviews with nine creatives working professionally in the arts, a number of whom are also Dundee graduates, giving an insight into their different careers and how they entered the field.

Ashling and Cat hope the comic will show that there's more than one way to break into the field and to break stigmas and negative stereotypes attached to creative careers.

“There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding artists that have led to the ‘starving artist’ trope, and this isn’t the case for all creatives,” said Cat, who graduated with a degree in Illustration from DJCAD in 2016.

“People still tend to view a career in the arts as risky because of tropes like this. That’s why I think it’s really important to get out this kind of information. A career in the arts doesn’t need to be a scary thing, it doesn’t need to be risky.”

The comic looks at careers in animation, comics, games, graphic design, illustration, jewellery, textiles, photography and fashion photography, highlighting the variety of potential career paths and opportunities available to other aspiring creatives.

Each story is illustrated by a different comic artist who also has a page in the book to tell their story about how they found their way into their artistic careers.

The pair want the comic to reach anyone with an interest in knowing the behind-the-scenes workings of the professional art world, from students thinking about studying a creative subject to parents and schools wanting to better understand to give support.

Ashling, who graduated with a degree in Animation from DJCAD in 2016, said, “It’s important to shine the light on just how diverse these careers can be because a lot of people who haven't had much exposure to the creative field don’t understand it.

“We’re particularly interested in helping younger people who are interested in pursuing a creative career and in helping their parents. This comic is an informative resource that can offer a more solid idea and give peace of mind.”

DEFORESTATION THREATENS ONE OF THE WORLD’S LARGEST EAGLES
Thu
1
Jul 2021

One of the world’s largest and most endangered eagle species face further risk from rainforest destruction, new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) finds. 

Harpy eagles (Harpia harpyja), which are arguably the world’s largest eagle species, struggle to feed offspring in heavily deforested areas of the Amazon, according to a new study from researchers at UEA and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. 

Dr Everton Miranda and colleagues found that harpy eagles rely on specific mammal prey that live in the forest canopy, including sloths and monkeys – but these mammals are also dwindling in numbers because of habitat loss. 

The authors observed prey species, how frequently prey was delivered, and estimated the weight of prey arriving at 16 harpy eagle nests in Amazonian forests in Mato Grosso, Brazil, using cameras and meticulously identifying prey bone fragments. They also referenced maps and high-resolution satellite imagery to calculate deforestation levels and estimate forest disturbance around each nest. 

The authors identified 306 prey items, nearly half (49.7 per cent) of which were two-toed sloths, brown capuchin monkeys and grey woolly monkeys. The authors’ observations indicated that harpy eagles in deforested areas did not switch to alternative non-forest prey, and delivered canopy-based prey less frequently and with lower estimated body mass. 

Eaglets starve to death in areas of high deforestation where canopy-based prey items are limited, and the study calculates the maximum deforestation threshold that precludes reproductive viability in rearing young.

In landscapes with 50-70 per cent deforestation, eaglets died from starvation, and no active nests were found in areas that had been deforested by over 70 per cent.

The authors calculated that areas with over 50 per cent deforestation are unsuitable for harpy eagles to successfully raise offspring and estimate that around 35 per cent of northern Mato Grosso is already unsuitable for breeding harpy eagles. This may have caused a decline in numbers of breeding pairs by 3,256 since 1985.

The authors conclude that as breeding harpy eagles rely on specific food and rarely hunt in deforested areas, harpy eagle survival critically depends on forest conservation.

Prof Carlos Peres, a Professor of Conservation Biology at UEA and an author in the study, said: “The geographic range of many forest species in the Amazon, including harpy eagles, is rapidly declining, but this is aggravated in apex predator populations sustained by large areas of suitable habitat.” 

Dr Miranda, who recently concluded his PhD in South Africa, said: “Considering that harpy eagles have the slowest life cycle of all birds, their chances of adapting to fragmented forest landscapes are nearly zero. Retaining forest connectivity, translocating juveniles and food supplementation to eaglets then become critical if they are to persist in these human-modified landscapes.”