PHD Project

September 28, 2022

The genomic and adaptive consequences of extreme, human-mediated population decline


Human activities are placing incredible pressure on the natural world and impacting population sizes of wild organisms, but the consequences of severe population decline in the wild is poorly understood. Survival of species experiencing such declines may be hampered by a limited ability to adapt to changing environments, reduced fertility and greater susceptibility to disease – all stemming from low genetic diversity. When applied to systems that have experienced population bottlenecks as a result of human activities, genomic tools allow us to examine the genomic consequences in terms of inbreeding, genetic load, disease resistance and adaptability. This studentship will investigate the consequences of extreme, rapid population decline using an example of drastic human intervention in which the fish stocks of entire lakes were eradicated and repopulated.

In this project, based at Bangor University and in collaboration with Norwegian research teams, the student will combine fish morphological and parasitological data with population genetics, immunogenetics, and genomic methods, to understand (i) the impact of extreme bottlenecks on the genome of a species, (ii) how loss of genetic diversity influences immunity to parasites and (iii) the processes by which rapid adaptation occurs in genetically depauperate populations.

The project offers opportunities for the student to gain experience in molecular biology, evolutionary genomics, disease ecology and science communication. The studentship will be based within the Molecular Ecology and Evolution group (, a world leader in the use of molecular data for addressing global issues in evolutionary genomics. It offers a dynamic and supportive training environment for young scientists and there will be opportunities for the student to work and train with Norwegian collaborators.

Essential skills are a minimum 2:1 BSc or equivalent in Life Sciences, with good numerate skills and enthusiasm for evolutionary biology and conservation genomics. Desirable skills are a postgraduate degree (e.g. MSc or MRes) and/or contribution to scientific publication, and molecular laboratory experience.

For further enquiries, please contact Dr Amy Ellison ( and Dr Alex Papadopulos (