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Winners and losers: biodiversity responses to degradation in Amazonian forests and freshwaters

   School of Biological Sciences

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  Dr Filipe Machado Franca  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Amazon Forest is one of the Earth’s most important ecosystems: it accounts for c.50% of all remaining rainforests, while housing at least 10% of all known biodiversity on the planet. Understanding how Amazonian ecosystems respond to multiple climatic and local human-driven disturbances is therefore essential to achieve global conservation targets and sustainable goals.

Method: This project relies on a database of biodiversity data from >12,000 forest and freshwater sites across the Brazilian Amazon, which were gathered by an international network of >250 scientists that are part of the Synergize project. The student will link this biodiversity data to land use and land cover maps from the MapBiomas Project ( and information on temperature, rainfall and other environmental conditions to understand the drivers of biodiversity at an unprecedented scale.

Contribution to knowledge and impact: Your PhD research will help elucidate if disturbance-driven changes in biodiversity vary across distinct fauna groups, biogeographic regions, and ecosystems in Amazonia, as well as the post-disturbance trajectory and drivers of forest and freshwater biodiversity. In the late stages of the project, you will also be able to evaluate if local biodiversity changes are scalable to land-use transitions across the Amazonian biome. In doing so, you will produce timely and needed scientific evidence to inform the decision-making within one of Earth’s most hyperdiverse regions.

Keywords: Amazonia, biodiversity, spatial patterns, data analysis, forest degradation.

Funding Notes

This project is available for UK students. Please contact Dr França directly for information about the project and how to apply ([Email Address Removed]). We are keen to recruit a diverse range of students and to ensure our research is open to all. We particularly welcome applications from groups traditionally under-represented in life sciences research. The annual stipend is set at the current UKRI recommendation of £17,668. Tuition fees and research costs are fully supported by the studentship. The studentship also includes allowance for paid sick leave and parental leave, in addition to 5 weeks of paid leave each year.


1. França F, Benkwitt C, Peralta G, Robinson J, Graham N, Tylianakis J, Berenguer E, Lees A, Ferreira J, Louzada J, Barlow, J. 2020. Climatic and local stressor interactions threaten tropical forests and coral reefs. Phil. Trans. of the Royal Society B 375, 1794.
2. Barlow J, França F, Gardner T, Hicks C, Lennox G, Berenguer E, Castello L, Economo E, Ferreira J, Guénard B, Leal C, Isaac V, Lees A, Paar C, Wilson S, Young P, Graham N. 2018. The future of hyperdiverse tropical ecosystems. Nature 559, 517-526.

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