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Ecology PhD Research Projects

We have 85 Ecology PhD Research Projects

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We have 85 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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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

Microbial and biogeochemical processes through the ocean-sediment continuum

  Research Group: Earth Surface Science
The interface between the ocean and subseafloor sediments is a critical boundary that influences life in the deep biosphere, the transport and transformation of organic carbon and nutrients, and the global carbon cycle. Read more

Microbial activity on glaciers and ice sheets: an integrated modelling and empirical approach.

  Research Group: Earth Surface Science
Glaciers and ice sheets are important microbe-dominated ecosystems, that are undergoing rapid changes due to climate change. Supraglacial (glacier surface) ecosystems contain organisms from all three domains of life, which drive carbon and nutrient cycling, and cause ice darkening, thus enhancing ice mass loss. Read more

Environmental Effects on Inbreeding Depression (Distance Learning Project)

Background. Inbreeding is an important issue in evolutionary biology and ecology because of its profound implications for genetic variation and the evolution of mating systems and reproductive strategies. Read more

MSc by Research on Nature Recovery

You will contribute to the research and knowledge arising from a new large-scale nature recovery project in a diverse former agricultural landscape next to Lincoln. Read more

The nature of mycorrhizal symbioses

This project will build on recent work highlighting the changing view of the nature of the relationship between plant and fungus in the (near) ubiquitous symbiosis. Read more

Adaptation to environmental change in animals: ecology, evolution and genomics.

How are animals able to live in different environments, with different temperatures, energetic demands, diet, predators, parasites or pH? Thanks to advances in gene sequencing technology, we are in a remarkable period of discovery about the genomic basis of adaptation and how this depends on the intricacies of ecology and environment. Read more

The evolution of primate vocal signals: from call production to signal function

  Research Group: Behavioural Ecology Research Group (BEEC)
Research Group. Behavioural Ecology Research Group. (BEEC). Proposed supervisory team. Dr Jacob Dunn. Dr Claudia Wascher. Theme. Animal Communication. Read more

Wider benefits of the National Pollinator Strategy

  Research Group: Applied Ecology Research Group (AERG)
Research Group. Applied Ecology Research Group. (AERG). Proposed supervisory team. Dr Alvin Helden. Dr Tom Ings. Several other members of Biology staff with interest in this subject area could be part of the team e.g., Dr Peter Brown and Dr Sarah Hart. Read more

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