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Anglia Ruskin University ARU Featured PhD Programmes
Anglia Ruskin University ARU Featured PhD Programmes

Temperature, fertility and population persistence: a transgenerational field study in the large white butterfly

School of Life Sciences

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Dr Graziella Iossa No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
Lincoln United Kingdom Behavioural Biology Biodiversity Developmental Biology Ecology Entomology Environmental Biology Evolution Reproductive Biology Zoology

About the Project

The University of Lincoln is offering a part-funded MSc by Research studentship under the supervision of Dr Graziella Iossa, Lecturer in Zoology. The studentship is supported by the British Ecological Society, the leading ecological society in Europe, and one of the leading learned societies globally.

Can butterflies survive heatwaves in the UK? This Masters by Research will investigate the effects of heatwaves on populations of the large white butterfly (Pieris brassicae). Fees are not covered but the student will benefit from a stipend, existing field equipment and facilities, including an insectary, wet and dry laboratories and outdoors enclosures at our working farm at Riseholme Campus, 5 miles north of Lincoln.

Rising global temperatures are causing species to go locally extinct. Many studies that attempt to predict whether species of animals and plants will adapt to climate change, look at whether an organism can survive in a location at increasingly high average temperatures and under temperature extremes, such as heatwaves. However, temperature is known to not only impact survival, but importantly alter an organism’s fertility. To date, most research on temperature-fertility has been conducted in the laboratory, so it is not well understood how exposure to temperature extremes in nature – extremes that aren’t lethal but can induce sterility – can impact species’ populations and long-term persistence. 

This study will simulate effects of heatwaves on populations of the large white butterfly held in outdoor enclosures. Data on fertility, metabolism and micro-climatic conditions will be used to model local extinction risk. Specifically, the student will test whether males and females of the large white butterfly are equally susceptible to high temperatures. Moreover, they will examine the transgenerational effects of heatwaves on male and female fertility, in the field. The large white is a good test species as it produces at least two generations over the summer in the UK, it is easy to rear and fertility is easy to measure. This will provide some of the first evidence of what might happen in nature.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a first or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant area.

This is a unique opportunity to be involved in research at the forefront of the effects of climate change on insects, gaining practical field skills, dissection and laboratory experience and data analyses.

 Applicants should possess excellent report writing and English language communication skills and an ability to work independently to deadlines.

How to Apply

Please send a 2-page CV and a cover letter explaining your motivations for applying for this Masters by Research to: Dr Graziella Iossa – [Email Address Removed]

 Closing Date for applications is 5pm, Friday 19th March 2021

Interviews: week commencing 22nd March 2021

Start Date: 1st June 2021



Studentship fees are not included. A stipend is supported by the British Ecological Society. This funding is open to UK and EU only.

Duration: 16 months

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