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Evolutionary dynamics of diverse communities: linking speciation with contemporary evolution.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 24, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

All organisms live in diverse communities with hundreds of other species. Understanding what species are, where they come from, and how they coexist and interact is therefore vital for predicting how living systems will evolve in response to contemporary changes, as well as for knowing where diversity comes from. You will join a group using a wide range of approaches – genomics, experimental evolution with bacteria, long-term time-series, biodiversity sampling – to tackle these challenges in a range of animal, microbial and plant groups. Designed to blend your interests with the group’s expertise, your project will build new theory, methods and/or evidence for understanding the dynamics of evolution of diverse systems, ranging from speciation and origins to contemporary evolution and management. Previous students have often worked with organisations such as the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and CABI and several have conducted fieldwork in the UK and in Africa, South East Asia and the American tropics.

The project will investigate whether species boundaries are adaptive. You will test whether mechanisms for allowing or restricting gene flow between populations have evolved to optimise fitness in fluctuating environments. For example, you will explore new approaches for tracking eco-evolutionary dynamics from genomic time-series, with the aim of being able to monitor, predict and manage evolutionary responses to changing conditions. Possible systems include fungal and insect communities associated with agricultural crops. How can we build resilience for beneficial organisms while reducing impacts of harmful ones? Or you might test these ideas with experimental evolution and speciation in the laboratory.

For more information, please send a brief outline of your interests and copy of your CV to Tim Barraclough at

Funding Notes

Funding is competitive via either University or Departmental Studentships.


Further reading: Barraclough T.G. 2019 ‘The Evolutionary Biology of Species’ Oxford University Press, UK.

How good is research at University of Oxford in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 223.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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