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PhD in the Evolutionary Ecology of Mating Systems

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

About the Project

Mating and breeding systems govern a wide range of evolutionary processes in plants and animals, including gene flow, genetic variation, and the strength of natural selection. Shifts in mating system (e.g., from outcrossing to inbreeding) are therefore well-studied from an evolutionary perspective. In contrast, ecological consequences of mating system transitions remain poorly understood. For example, there are many short-term effects of shifts to an inbreeding mating system, including altered interactions with predators and parasites, and reduced tolerance of changing environmental conditions. These effects have important consequences for the viability of populations, yet have received little attention.

My lab investigates these ecological consequences of reproductive variation, using plants and insects as model systems. This PhD project could focus on: (1) How environmental stress alters inbreeding depression; (2) How inbreeding affects fitness and population growth rates of parasites; and (3) How mutualistic and antagonistic species interactions contribute to the success of different reproductive strategies.

We welcome applications from enthusiastic and independent applicants with diverse backgrounds and career plans, and this project would suit students with interests in ecology, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, behaviour, genetics, botany, entomology or some combination of these. Our research is interdisciplinary, and you will gain expertise in a range of modern techniques and approaches to ecology and evolutionary biology, including field studies in natural habitats, experimental evolution, metabolomic analyses, and molecular tools.

Science Graduate School
As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Funding Notes

Applicants will need to obtain funding to cover tuition fees and living expenses.

The applicant should have, or expect to gain at least an upper second class degree, or equivalent overseas qualification, in a relevant subject

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