As part of the new NERC Doctoral Training Program at the University of Leeds, I have two PhD projects to advertise that are now (as of 15th November 2013) open to applicants:
1: DragonFlight: Linking the mechanics and energetics of flight to conservation status and responses to climate change in dragonflies
The DragonFlight project builds on my earlier interests in dragonfly dispersal (1), macroecology (2), and flight morphology (3). There has quite a bit of work done on the flight of dragonflies, but much of this has taken place in the laboratory and has not considered what goes on in the field. Similarly, there has been quite a lot of landscape-scale work done in the form of mark-recapture studies or analyses of historical records (including my own), but none of this has really tested for the traits that underlie flight ability. This project will link detailed biomechanical measurements of dragonfly flight to our knowledge of responses to climate change (i.e. range shifts) or conservation status.
2: Teaching old beetles new tricks: applying novel genetic techniques to re-establish a classic ecological model system, Tribolium
I’m really excited about this project. Andrew Peel, a colleague at Leeds, has been working on the evolution of beetles (and animals in general) for a while and uses Tribolium as a model system. I have been interested in the ecology of this system for some time and this project represents us banging our brains together. In particular, there are lots of nice ways that we can incorporate Andrew’s contemporary genomic techniques (e.g. RNAi) to test for genetic drivers of ecological phenomena. The species is also an important pest species of stored grain, making any advances potentially applicable to pest control.
Note that both of these are “competitively funded”, which means that there are more projects than we can fund. We interview candidates for all projects and then award the best candidates the projects that they applied for. There are more details on the website, including how to apply. Deadline is 24th January 2014.
(1) Hassall C, Thompson DJ (2012) Study design and mark recapture estimates of dispersal: a case study with the endangered damselfly Coenagrion mercuriale. Journal of Insect Conservation, 16, 111-120.
(2) Hassall C, Thompson DJ (2010) Accounting for recorder effort in the detection of range shifts from historical data. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 1, 343-350.
(3) Hassall C, Thompson DJ, Harvey IF (2008) Latitudinal variation in morphology in two sympatric damselfly species with contrasting range dynamics (Odonata: Coenagrionidae). European Journal of Entomology, 105, 939-944.