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Assembly of ungulate communities as an outcome of interspecific interactions over ecological and evolutionary time frames


Faculty of Health and Life Science

About the Project

BACKGROUND: When species go locally extinct, it often has wider repercussions at the community level due interspecific interactions. Recent advances in multi-species distribution modelling present exciting opportunities to pinpoint patterns in interspecific competition and
facilitation within ecological guilds. A deeper understanding of the principles underpinning these interactions can in turn be obtained by using the comparative approach to identify cases of convergent evolution between species and the sequence of evolutionary events.
Ungulates are a particularly well-suited model system for statistical analysis because of their species richness and ecological and morphological diversity. OBJECTIVES: You will take a macroecological approach to investigate the ecological and evolutionary drivers shaping the structure of ungulate communities world-wide. You will analyse data on species distributions, ecological + morphological traits, human land-use and phylogenetic history using Joint Species Distribution Modelling (JSDM) and cutting-edge phylogenetic comparative methods. You will use the models to explore consequences of ongoing environmental changes, such as overexploitation and climatic shifts, and thereby identify concerns for biodiversity conservation and best options for threat mitigation. Objective 1: Use patterns in species distributions to investigate ecological interactions between ungulate taxa Objective 2: Use the comparative method to identify convergent evolution of ecological traits and wider evolutionary syndromes Objective 3: Synthesise the above to form a conceptual model of the ecology and evolution of ungulate community structure Objective 4: Forecast the impact of ongoing environmental change on community structure and function, and assess alternative management options.

HOW TO APPLY

Notes and how to apply are available here: https://acce.shef.ac.uk/phd-opportunities-at-liverpool/

Funding Notes

NERC ACCE DTP in Ecology and Evolution, programme starts October 2021.

UKRI provide the following funding for 3.5 years:
• Stipend (2020/21 UKRI rate £15,285)
• Tuition Fees at UK fee rate (2020/21 rate £4,407)
• Research support and training grant (RTSG)

Note - UKRI funding only covers UK fees (£4,407 at 2020/2021 rate). A limited number of international fee bursaries will be awarded on a competitive basis. However, if selected International and EU fee rate candidates may need to cover the remaining amount of tuition fees by securing additional funding. International fees for 2020/21 entry were £23,650 per annum.

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