PHD Project

October 10, 2017

Change in arctic and alpine plant communities: the roles of climate and geodiversity

Change in arctic and alpine plant communities: the roles of climate and geodiversity

Understanding variation and change in biodiversity as a consequence of changing environments is one of today’s main scientific challenges. One problem is that recent climate change has tended to be much smaller in magnitude (~1°C) than the change expected over the rest of this century (~5°C), which limits the ability to predict future biodiversity change. Also, much of the research focus so far has only correlated climatic variables with biotic ones, despite increasing evidence that other influences are important. This project will overcome these limitations by investigating whether areas of high abiotic diversity (geodiversity) are more effective at buffering biodiversity against the impacts of climate change in arctic and high-altitude ecosystems. These arctic and alpine ecosystems have already experienced warming of ~5°C over the last few decades. Analysis and manuscript writing will proceed quickly: all the data needed for the first two papers have been amassed by the supervisory team and collaborators. For subsequent papers, the student will acquire and process additional targeted remote sensing data, and participate in at least one fieldwork season. The successful applicant will have excellent networking opportunities, taking advantage of a large collaborative team of ecologists, biogeographers, remote sensing experts and geo-scientists in the UK, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and the USA. The project will involve placements with project partners overseas, field work in Greenland, quantitative analysis of large databases, remote sensing and numerical modelling. Applicants must have grounding either in biogeography/ecology/geology or quantitative methods/statistics. In either case, the applicant should be excited to learn about the other area of expertise. Programming (ideally in R), ecological/geological field experience, database management, geostatistical and remote sensing/GIS skills are assets, but enthusiasm for nature and curiosity about the impact of climate change on ecosystems 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, Physical Geography, Natural Sciences or Quantitative Methods/Statistics.

For further details please contact Dr Richard Field ( or Dr Franziska Schrodt (