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Ecology PhD Research Projects

We have 84 Ecology PhD Research Projects

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We have 84 Ecology PhD Research Projects

An Ecology PhD would give you the chance to study the relationships between organisms and their environment, through a model species, field work, or mathematical modelling. Whatever you study, from population ecology to how plants are affected by the soil ecosystem, you’ll be aiming to develop methods of reducing or mitigating any negative impacts environmental changes may be having.

What’s it like to do a PhD in Ecology?

Studying a PhD in Ecology, you’ll gain a variety of skills since Ecology draws on techniques from many subjects including Geology, Microbiology and Bioinformatics.

Some typical research topics in Ecology include:

  • Studying the effect of an environmental factor e.g. urbanisation is affecting a species
  • Developing models to estimate the impact of environmental changes to organisms
  • Investigating how the interaction between species has evolved
  • Population ecology, studying the dynamics of a population including interactions with environment, birth, death, and immigration rates
  • Developing methods of mitigating adverse effects of altering the environment on the species it contains
  • Focused study on a particular ecosystem and its species (overlap with Biodiversity)

In a general workday, you’ll be conducting field work and analysing previous data or if you’re project involves Bioinformatics, you’ll be writing programmes and using methods from statistics and data science to analyse large datasets. Discussing your results, progress and problems with your supervisor and colleagues.

Your PhD will end with the submission of a thesis (approximately 60,000 words in length) that significantly contributes to the knowledge of your field, and a viva exam, in which you’ll defend your research.

Ecology PhD programmes are generally advertised projects with full funding attached, with the project proposal written by the supervisor. However, for some advertised projects you must find your own source of funding, which can be difficult due to additional bench fees, though these may not be as high as more laboratory-based subjects, it is still an extra cost to cover. This difficulty also makes proposing your own project in Ecology uncommon.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for most Ecology PhD programmes involve a Masters in a subject directly related to Biology, with experience in Environmental Biology desirable, at Merit or Distinction level. If English isn’t your first language, you’ll also need to show that you have the right level of language proficiency.

PhD in Ecology funding options

The research council responsible for funding Ecology PhDs in the UK is the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). They provide fully-funded studentships including a stipend for living costs, a consumables budget for bench fees and a tuition fee waiver. Students don’t apply directly to the BBSRC, you apply for advertised projects with this funding attached.

It’s difficult for Ecology PhD students to be ‘self-funded’ due to the additional bench fees. However, if you were planning to fund yourself it might be achievable (depending on your project) through the UK government’s PhD loan and part-time work.

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Evolutionary ecology of host-parasite interactions

Proposed Start Date. September 2022. The body is home to trillions of microbes. There has been a surge of interest on the effects of these microbes on host health, often as agents of infectious disease. Read more

Landscape genomics and local adaptation in livestock species

Most livestock species originated in a few localities, e.g. the Fertile Crescent or the Indus Valley among others. However, today, many of those species have spread to many environments around the planet. Read more

Inga agroforestry to enhance soil regeneration and carbon sequestration in degraded tropical soils.

Extensive tracts of land in the tropics have already been cleared of forest, used first to grow crops and then as pasture. The removal of the tropical forest severely diminishes the capacity of the ecosystem to retain nutrients and carbon in the soil. Read more

Breeding system evolution in shorebirds

  Research Group: Biodiversity
Shorebirds (plovers, sandpipers and allies) exhibit high diversity of mating systems and parenting. My reserarch group investigates the ecolutionary causes and conservational implications of this diversity. Read more

PhD in tropical conservation: Quantifying the impacts of wildlife trade on tropical biodiversity

Wildlife trade is a core driver of the global extinction crisis, with the epicentre of traded species diversity in the tropics. Key questions remain about how wildlife trade impacts species populations and, in turn, the long-term sustainability of trade. Read more

PhD in tropical conservation: Quantifying the impacts of mining on tropical biodiversity

Mining is the most luctrative industry globally, with rapid expansion of mines predicted accross the tropics. This expansion will drive deforestation within the mine itself and through interaction with socio-economic development outside of the mine. Read more

PhD in tropical conservation: Quantifying the impacts of land-use change on tropical biodiversity across scales

Tropical land-use change is a core driver of the global extinction and climate change crises. Key questions remain about how land-use change drives species losses and changing composition across the tropics, from local to regional spatial scales. Read more

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