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Aerodynamic invasions: does the biomechanics of flight affect dispersal and genetic diversity in invasive species?

Project Description

Invasive species represent one of the most pressing threats to earth’s biodiversity. This ENVISION PhD studentship is an exciting opportunity to work at the interface of biomechanics and genomics to test timely questions in invasive species biology: What are the functional links between dispersal traits and genetic diversity in invasive species? How do dispersal traits differ between invasive and non-invasive species? And how does dispersal affect the spread of invasive species into novel habitats? The successful candidate will collect phenotypic and genomic data from wild species of invasive Drosophilid fruit flies and learn in cutting-edge techniques to address these and related questions. The student will travel extensively across the UK to sample different species of invasive Drosophila that have recently colonized the UK. Using invasive species as “natural experiments” will allow us to better under the dynamics of biological invasions, a timely goal under current levels of human-driven environmental change.

During the course of their training, the student will work closely with partners in the agriculture and horticulture industry, as some of the target species pose threats agricultural crops. The student will also receive extensive training in flight kinematics, bioinformatics, and genomics, providing them with marketable skills in “big data” science. The student will be hosted in the vibrant Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory in Bangor, and have the opportunity to conduct field work and attend international conferences to present their research.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Evolution, Ecology, Conservation, or Natural Sciences. Interest in conducting fieldwork, laboratory experiments, and analysing large biomechanics and genomic data is required.

For further details please contact Dr. Aaron Comeault () and Dr. Kristen Crandell ().

Funding Notes

The studentship is only available to applicants from the UK and EU.

Each student will be supported by the tax-free stipend (£15,009 in 2019/20), typically for 3.5 years. In addition, for eligible students, the award will cover EU/UK fees.

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