Note: This project is jointly supervised by Dr. Justin Travis, University of Aberdeen.
Species’ range boundaries are a consequence of ecological and evolutionary processes and, in turn, can themselves influence ecological and evolutionary processes which together yield observed patterns of individuals and genotypes. Describing and understanding ecotones, biogeographic range limits and hybrid zones are all major current topics in ecology: all involve boundary conditions and all would benefit greatly from the development of spatial statistics that can more effectively describe the unique spatial patterns associated with these boundaries. In this project we will exploit the flexibility of recently developed spatial statistical methods that allow incorporation of different boundary conditions and thus produce spatial patterns than can differ close to boundaries. The first objective will be to develop these models to be useful in an ecological context and use them to describe the spatial patterns present at a case study ecotone, a shifting range limit and a hybrid zone. The second objective is to use the spatial statistics within an inverse-modelling framework to infer the ecological processes (e.g. spatial scale of dispersal, kernel of competitive interactions) that underlie the spatial patterns found close to boundaries.
Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the Postgraduate Officer responsible for PhDs in Statistics, in advance of making a formal application. He is: Len Thomas, email [email protected]
To make a formal application, complete the appropriate online form at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/admissions/pg/apply/research/ (click on “Apply Now” on that page). You also need to provide the following supporting documentation: CV, evidence of qualifications and evidence of English language (if applicable). You are welcome to include a covering letter. You don’t need to provide a research proposal or a sample of academic written work. You will need to ask two referees to provide academic references for you – once you fill in their name on the form, they will be sent emails asking them to upload their references. Please note that we give serious consideration to both the stature of your referees and the remarks that they make about you. More details about the application procedure are given at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/admissions/pg/apply/documentation/
Multiple sources of scholarship funding are potentially available, including university, research council (EPSRC) and research group (CREEM). Some are open to international students, some to EU and some UK only.
Applicants should have a good first degree in mathematics, statistics or another scientific discipline with a substantial numerical component. Applicants with degrees in other subjects, such as biology, are invited to discuss their qualifications with the Postgraduate Officer. A masters-level degree is an advantage.
Many details of the general requirements and admissions procedure are given at the university web site http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/admissions/pg/apply/research/