PhD Studentship: Assessing the vulnerability of aquatic invertebrates to climate change: an interdisciplinary approach to predictive modelling

PhD Studentship: Assessing the vulnerability of aquatic invertebrates to climate change: an interdisciplinary approach to predictive modelling
University of Plymouth

Location: Plymouth
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,296
Closes: 19th November 2016

Dr Simon Rundle (, tel.: 01752 584648)

Dr Manuela Truebano (, tel.: 01752 587885)

Dr Enrico Rezende (

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on January 1st 2017.

Project Description

Climate change is predicted to have profound effects on biodiversity. The assessment of species’ sensitivities to elevated temperatures is a crucial tool for modelling the effects of altered thermal conditions and for developing mitigation strategies. But these assessments suffer from limitations because: i) they are often generated using single populations, ignoring the fact that, species populations can have different thermal tolerancesthrough local adaptation; and ii) they focus mostly on adult stages, despite the fact that early life-cycle stages are often more sensitive. Hence, there is an urgent need for more robust predictive models that take into account the vulnerability of different life history stages (e.g. embryos) and populations from different thermal environments (e.g. different latitudes). The quality of predictive models could also be improved through the use of sub-lethal measures (e.g. heart rate, heat shock proteins) that provide early warning of increased sensitivity.

This project will combine cutting-edge, bio-imaging technology and molecular tools for measuring lethal and sub-lethal endpoints in aquatic gastropods in order to produce more robust predictive models of species’ vulnerabilities to climate change. More specifically, it will:

i) measure thermal tolerance at different stages of the life cycle (embryo, larvae, juvenile, adult) from populations adapted to different local thermal conditions (e.g. from different latitudes);

ii) make concomitant measures of sub-lethal responses (e.g. heart rate, heat shock proteins);

iii) produce thermal landscape models that incorporate lethal and sub-lethal responses to predict relative sensitivities of different populations to climate change.


Applicants should have (at least) a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification.

The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £14,296 per annum. The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover overseas fees will have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates (approximately £11,040 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Simon Rundle ( However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

General information about applying for a research degree at Plymouth University is available at:…/the-g…/applicants-and-enquirers

You can apply via the online application form which can be found at: and click ‘Apply’.

Please mark it FAO Francesca Niedzielski and clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Marine Science and Engineering.

For more information on the admissions process contact Francesca Niedzielski on

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on the 19th of November 2016. Interviews will be held in the last week of November. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview within ten days of this date. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer by 15th December should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.