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The Ecological and Evolutionary consequences of tropicalisation

  • 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

Project Rationale:
Climate warming is creating novel ecological communities whereby species compositions and interactions differ from a historical baseline. Notably, tropical marine species are being documented in temperate biogeographic regions, while the ranges of temperate species are shifting poleward. This phenomenon is known as ‘tropicalisation’; yet very little is known of its ecological and evolutionary consequences. For instance, we do not know if temperate prey species are able to defend themselves against tropical marine predators nor how the influx of tropical predators affects community composition (“top-down” effects). Tropicalisation may also have genetic/evolutionary consequences. For example, range contracting temperate species may experience an overall loss of genetic diversity and disappearance of unique genetic clades - which in turn may have consequences on the capacity for species to adapt to climate warming and future evolutionary trajectories (i.e. extinction risk). This PhD will draw from a wide variety of disciplines and theory, ranging from predator induced defenses/predator-prey interactions/community ecology to molecular phylogeography and phylogenetics to address key knowledge gaps on the ecological and evolutionary consequences of tropicalisation. The project will focus on a transition zone between tropical and temperate biogeographic regions where tropicalisation has been preliminarily documented but its consequences have not been established.

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 eligibilty and how to apply


Fenberg, P.B. & Rivadeneira, M. M. (2019). On the importance of habitat continuity for delimiting biogeographic regions and shaping richness gradients. Ecology Letters. 22: 664-673.

Fenberg, P.B., Posbic, K., Hellberg, M.E. (2014). Historical and recent processes shaping the geographic range of a rocky intertidal gastropod: phylogeography, ecology, and habitat availability. Ecology and Evolution 4: 3244-3255.

Claremont, M., Vermeij, GJ., Williams, S.T., Reid, D.G. (2013). Global phylogeny and new classification of the Rapaninae (Gastropoda: Muricidae), dominant molluscan predators on tropical rocky seashores. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66: 91-102.

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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