Thermal effects on species interactions: a field study on the cabbage-butterfly model system.

   School of Life Sciences

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  Dr Graziella Iossa  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Temperature extremes, such as heatwaves, are increasingly threatening species persistence globally. While studies have reported widespread declines across biodiversity as average temperatures increase, the mechanisms responsible for local declines, and at the level of organisms, are unknown. What are the effects of heat at different stages of the lifecycle, on individuals, and their interaction with other species? Emerging lab evidence shows that extreme temperatures can affect an individual’s survival, but also impair fertility. However, our understanding of how exposure to temperature extremes can alter species interactions in nature, is poor. This study will simulate the effects of heatwaves on cabbage plants and their tightly co-evolved cabbage butterflies in the field. Data on plant-butterfly responses in egg-to-adult lifecycle, plant microclimatic conditions, and its effects on butterfly fertility will be used to model local extinction risk. Specifically, there are three key aims: to develop biophysical models to predict organismal body temperatures from local microclimatic conditions, to link body temperature to individual performance (fertility) and to determine the temperature effects on insect-plant interactions. The cabbage-butterfly is a good model as it is commercially relevant, easy to manipulate and measure. This will provide some of the first evidence of what might happen in nature.

The University of Lincoln is a hub of evolutionary biophysics research, with a range of projects funded by NERC, ERC, HFSP and MRC England. You will be part of our Evolution and Ecology Research group based with the School of Life and Environmental Sciences and join a research team of other postgraduate students working across a range of topics. The University has state-of-the-art molecular and chemical analyses facilities at the Joseph Banks Laboratories at the main campus, facilities for animal behaviour research and use of agricultural facilities at the Riseholme campus. As well as interactions with academic audiences both within the University and at national and international conferences, you will have the opportunity to interact with people and researchers across a range of disciplines.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

This is a fully-funded studentship for four years, applicable to Home and International applicants. It covers all fees and provides an annual stipend of £17,668 paid in monthly instalments.


Please include the details of two academic referees and attach the diversity monitoring form to your application email.
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