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Variability and permanence of functional traits to determine environmental tipping points


Project Description

Species diversity has a disproportionate influence on ecosystem functioning and stability and as such, resilience to extinction events. The extent to which variation in biological traits changes or persists following environmental forcing in scenarios linked to current climate change, has not been considered over multiple generations yet. If important ecological functions are impacted across one or more generations, eventually a tipping point is reached with severe consequences for the marine ecosystem.

This PhD project is linked to and supported by a new NERC grant starting in 2020 to the Universities of Hull and Southampton and CEFAS. It will use multi-generational studies on marine model species to quantify functional traits related to fitness in changed aquatic environments, and determine how functions performed by traits of surviving communities influence ecosystem functioning. The project will enable us to determine tipping points where changes to ‘effect traits’ (here animal behaviour /physiology) lead to a point when a species’ abilities to colonize or thrive in a habitat and to persist in the face of environmental change is altered, and will enable us to understand whether these changes are transient or permanent. Dr. Wollenberg Valero’s MolStressH2O research cluster and Dr. Hardege’s Chemical Ecology group will provide a vibrant research atmosphere for the successful candidate, and they will collaborate closely with the project partners in Southampton.

Funding Notes

Eligible for funding under the NERC Panorama DTP (stipend and UK/EU fees for 3.5 years)

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1) Contact the supervisor of your chosen project to register your interest. Please note that you can only apply for 1 project within the DTP.

2) Apply online - View Website

The programme code is ‘NERC PANORAMA DTP’. Section 10 request information about the research area - you should input the title of the project that you wish to be considered for and the supervisors’ names.

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