Why are pests so successful? The evolutionary ecology of population establishment and spread. (SPURGIN_U19DTP)
- Research Area Agriculture and Food Security
- Partner The University of East Anglia (UEA)
Dr Lewis Spurgin -
- Application Deadline 26/11/2018
Crop pests and diseases are one of the major challenges facing science and society. Yet, from an evolutionary perspective, pests can be viewed as “success stories” – organisms that show a remarkable ability to adapt and spread, often in ecologically challenging environments. If we are to protect our crops as the earth’s climate changes, understanding how pests establish in new environments is essential.
This project will test exciting new theory about how pest populations established from a small number of individuals adapt and spread in challenging environments. The student will use experimental populations of beetles to measure “evolution in action” – directly quantifying rates of evolutionary adaptation and ecological dynamics in newly founded pest populations. In doing so, the student will identify how and why some introduced pest populations successfully establish, while others go extinct.
The student will be broadly trained in evolutionary ecology and population genetics. Further, they will use a range of state-of-the-art techniques enabling them to develop an impressive set of skills, including experimental design, animal husbandry, next generation sequencing, bioinformatics and statistics. As such, the project offers an outstanding opportunity to address a fundamental scientific question of high societal importance, while at the same time gaining invaluable skills.
Applicants should have a good degree in biology, ecology or another relevant subject. They will have a passion for research and a willingness to learn cutting-edge experimental techniques and analytical methods. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact the primary supervisor at firstname.lastname@example.org.