December 14, 2016

Modelling thermal safety margins of animals worldwide under climate and land use change: past, present and future

Modelling thermal safety margins of animals worldwide under climate and land use change past, present and future

This project will investigate the effects of joint climate and land cover change on the thermal vulnerability of animals at a global scale. While rising global temperatures are predicted to reduce thermal safety margins for many species, especially ectotherms, much less is known about the effects of land cover change on thermal microhabitats, especially in tropical areas where biodiverse forests are being rapidly replaced by plantation habitats.

This project will develop and test an innovative approach to modelling effects of forest structure and land cover change on thermal microhabitats using remote sensing data. The model will then be used to estimate changes in thermal safety margins for animal species across the world’s major terrestrial biomes due to recent climate and land use change, and predict the effects of future changes. The successful applicant will carry out fieldwork to measure solar radiation and thermal conditions for model calibration and testing across land cover gradients in the tropics (e.g. Borneo), sub-tropics (e.g. Canary Islands) and the temperate zone (e.g. UK). However, the majority of the project will involve data-driven, spatially explicit modelling of remote sensing, climate, and macroecological datasets. Thus, applicants must be willing to carry out ecological fieldwork under difficult conditions in isolated locations, and have an interest in applying and developing quantitative modelling skills.

Applicants must have grounding in one of ecology, physical geography, remote sensing science, or mathematics and statistics. This should be coupled with a willingness to learn new skills independently and through organized training courses. Tropical fieldwork, programming (in any language but especially R), and GIS experience are assets, but an enthusiasm for nature and ecological problem solving/modelling, coupled with a willingness to learn are by far the most important requirements.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2.1 level (or equivalent) in a subject such as Biology, Ecology, Geography, Natural Sciences, Geospatial Sciences or Mathematics/ Statistics. We expect the most competitive applicants will have a Master’s qualification or practical experience.

For further details please contact Dr. Adam Algar at