Assembly of ungulate communities as an outcome of interspecific interactions over ecological and evolutionary timeframes

A taxidery zebra against a white background

Equus zebra, Cape mountain zebra © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Ungulates are a particularly well-suited model system due to their species richness and ecological and morphological diversity which makes them ideal for statistical analysis.

When species go locally extinct, it often has wider repercussions at the community level due interspecific interactions.

Recent advances in multi-species distribution modelling present exciting opportunities to pinpoint patterns in interspecific competition and facilitation within ecological guilds.

A deeper understanding of the principles underpinning these interactions can in turn be obtained by using the comparative approach to identify cases of convergent evolution between species and the order of evolutionary events.

Ungulates are a particularly well-suited model system due to their species richness and ecological and morphological diversity which makes them ideal for statistical analysis.

Objectives

You will take a macroecological approach to investigate evolutionary and ecological drivers of the structure of ungulate communities world-wide. You will analyse data on species distributions, ecological and morphological traits, human land-use and phylogenetic history using joint species distribution modelling and cutting-edge phylogenetic comparative methods.

Based on these models, you will explore consequences of ongoing environmental changes, such as overexploitation and climatic shifts, in order to identify concerns for biodiversity conservation and the best options for mitigation.

Objective 1: Use species distributions to establish positive and negative ecological interactions between ungulate taxa

Objective 2: Use the comparative method to identify convergent evolution of ecological traits and wider syndromes in ungulates

Objective 3: Synthesise the outcomes of O1 and O2 to a conceptual model of community structure

Objective 4: Forecast the impact of environmental change in community composition and assess  alternative options for mitigation.

How to apply

Read about how to apply on the ACCE website.

The deadline for applications is 15 January 2021.

Apply for this project

Read about how to apply on the ACCE website.

Application deadline: 15 January 2021

Any questions?

University of Liverpool 

Lead supervisor: Dr Jakob Bro-Jørgensen

Supervisors

The Natural History Museum

Dr Natalie Cooper

ACCE Doctoral Training Partnership

Joint PhD training partnerships between the Natural History Museum and the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool and York, and the NERC’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).

Funded by