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QUADRAT DTP: Speciation Dynamics in Wallacea: Implications for Conservation on Sulawesi

Project Description

Wallacea has a unique fauna and flora characterised by incredibly high levels of biodiversity and endemism, and which is threatened by changing land use, exploitation and climate change. The evolutionary responses of the rich diversity of Wallacea to this rapid change in environment are currently unknown. This PhD studentship will involve developing and using state-of-the-art eco-evolutionary modelling with new and existing ecological and evolutionary data across eukaryotic taxa and/or soil microbes to deliver fresh understanding of the processes responsible for the generation, diversification, and persistence of Wallacea’s endemic biodiversity. Finally, the project will involve forecasting biodiversity dynamics across a suite of taxa under alternative future scenarios of land use and climate change.

This PhD project will be embedded within a large project recently awarded by NERC to a UK-Indonesian team. The PhD student will form part of this team alongside two postdoctoral researchers. There will be considerable scope for the successful student to focus the project on aspects on which they are most interested or that match the skills they currently have or seek to gain. Some aspects that we are particularly keen to pursue are, for eukaryotes, the development, maintenance and erosion of hybrid zones under changing environmental conditions, the role of introgression in generating apparent diversity in some of the incredibly speciose plant genera and, developing models that focus on mechanisms of genetic exchange between microbes in order to address the role it can play in generating observed patterns of diversity.

There will be the opportunity to conduct fieldwork on Sulawesi (a major component of Wallacea) to gather data to inform parameterisation and/or validation of the models. Within the project we have an existing focus on macaques, draco lizards, freshwater snails, rice fish, damselflies and soil microbes but there will be opportunities to extending this to other groups too, including plants.

We will provide the student with high-level training in theoretical and applied eco-evolutionary modelling, in fieldwork in tropical environments and in phylogeographic approaches. This specialist training will complement the skills training that the student will receive as a member of a cohort of QUADRAT students.


Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered providing they have a Distinction at Master’s level.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences
• State name of the lead supervisor as ‘Name of Proposed Supervisor’ on application
• State ‘QUADRAT DTP’ as Intended Source of Funding
• Select the ‘Visit Website’ to apply now

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the NERC QUADRAT-DTP and is available to UK/EU nationals who meet the UKRI eligibility criteria. Please visit View Website for more information.

The studentship provides funding for tuition fees, stipend and a research training and support grant subject to eligibility.


Urban, Bocedi et al. 2016. Improving the forecast for biodiversity under climate change. Science 353:aad8466-aad8466.

Frantz et al. 2018. Synchronous diversification of Sulawesi’s iconic artiodactyls driven by recent geological events. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 285:20172566.

Example of evolutionary model: Kagawa & Takimoto 2018. Hybridization can promote adaptive radiation by means of transgressive segregation. Ecology Letters 21:264-274.

How good is research at Aberdeen University in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 89.42

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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