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Modelling the evolution of adaptive responses to climate change across spatial landscapes

Project Description

Through increasing periods of drought, higher temperatures and extreme events, future climate change will introduce new selection pressures on species. As many species will be unable to shift their ranges fast enough to track suitable climatic conditions[1], their ability to thrive or even to survive will depend on how well and how quickly they are able to adapt to new conditions. Climate change vulnerability assessments are often based on forecasts from species distribution models, that project forward where current suitable climatic conditions for a given species will be found in future[2]. However this fails to account for the possibility that populations can evolve adaptations to new conditions and so survive in (or close to) their current range. Consequently these predictions can be inaccurate, potentially leading to misplaced conservation efforts. This PhD project will develop a forecasting framework for species ranges that includes evolutionary responses to environmental change. We will test our approach using data from a European bat showing adaptation to climatic gradients. Bats provide an excellent case study of adaptation in long-lived wild species because of their sensitivity to environmental change, and therefore can demonstrate the potential of our approach for forecasting future distributions for species of conservation concern.

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] Loarie, S.R. et al, (2009) The velocity of climate change, Nature, 462, 1052-1057, doi: 10.1038/nature08649
[2] Pacifici, M. et al, (2015) Assessing species vulnerability to climate change, Nature Climate Change, 5, 215-224, doi: 10.1038/nclimate2448
[3] Chevin, L.-M. and Lande, R., (2011) Adaptation to marginal habitats by evolution of increased phenotypic plasticity, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 24, 1462-1476, doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02279.x

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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