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Investigating the effects of fragmentation and environmental change on tropical montane butterflies and moths

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 03, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Deforestation is a major threat to biodiversity in South-East Asia where more than 14% of forest cover was lost in the last decade [1]. Combined with climate change, which is expected to rise by 6°C in Asia by the turn of the century, montane species are facing an unprecedented risk of extinction [2].
There are fewer than 50 articles published globally on the impacts of habitat degradation on tropical montane insects [3]. Given that montane forests in Peninsular Malaysia have been rapidly depleted due to agricultural expansion, assessing the impact of deforestation and fragmentation on montane biodiversity is imperative. Further, montane forests are the last refuges for many vulnerable species since most lowland forests are cleared. These forests are essential for maintaining habitat connectivity and gene flow across the peninsular and between the highlands and lowlands. However, little research has attempted to assess how the insect communities respond to the deterioration of montane forests in Peninsular Malaysia. Here, we focus on butterflies and moths as they play a crucial ecological role as pollinators.
This project will combine well established ecological research methods with molecular analysis to assess the butterfly and moth diversity, distribution, genomic diversity and gene flow across multiple montane forest sites with varying levels of disturbance and fragmentation. The outcome of this project will provide the scientific basis to inform conservation management and mitigation in insect biodiversity hotspots.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibility and how to apply


[1] Hansen MC, Potapov P, Moore R, Hancher M, Turubanova SA,
Tyukavina A, Thau D, Stehman SV, Goetz SJ, Loveland TR, Kommareddy A, Egorov A, Chini L, Justice CO and Townshend JRG. 2013. High-resolution global maps of 21st-century forest cover change. Science

[2] Peh KS-H, Soh MCK, Sodhi NS, Laurance WF, Ong DF and Clements R. 2011. Up in the clouds: is sustainable use of tropical montane cloud forests possible in Malaysia? Bioscience 61:27-38.

[3] Soh MCK, Mitchell NJ, Ridley AR, Butler CW, Puan CL and Peh KS-H. 2019. Impacts of habitat degradation on tropical montane biodiversity and ecosystem services: a systematic mapping for identifying future research priorities. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change. Acceptance pending revision.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

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

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