June 17, 2022

The impact of light pollution on the diet and microbiomes of sandhoppers

Photo of sandhopper on the sand

Location: Bangor University, Molecular Ecology and Evolution group

Duration: 6-10 weeks

The ecological impact of artificial light at night (ALAN) has been a rapidly growing field of global change science in recent years. While understanding of direct lighting impacts (for example street lights) has improved dramatically, the effect of artificial skyglow (light that is scattered in the atmosphere and reflected back to the ground) on species ecology and health is lacking.

Skyglow extends the geographical influence of artificial lighting from metres to kilometres. It interferes with the detectability of natural light cycles associated with the passage of the moon, which enable many organisms to time important biological events, and orientate themselves in space using the celestial compass. 22% of the world’s coastal regions are now exposed to artificial skyglow, the ecological consequences of which are largely unknown.

In this research placement, based in Molecular Ecology & Evolution at Bangor University (, the student will use molecular methods (NGS metabarcoding) to characterise the gut contents and microbiome of the sandhopper Talitrus saltator and determine if there are potential differences in detritivore nutrient utilisation between light-polluted and non-light-polluted beaches on Anglesey.

This placement provides a wealth of opportunities for the student to gain knowledge of, and experience in, molecular biology, chronobiology, bioinformatics and marine fieldwork. The student will collaborate with and be mentored by PhD students researching the ecological impacts of ALAN and animal microbiomes, and thus gain insights into a future career in academic research.

Applications are welcome from undergraduate students currently studying for a degree in biological sciences (e.g. biology, zoology, marine biology) with interests in marine ecology, microbiomes and/or molecular biology. Previous experience in molecular laboratory skills such as DNA extraction and PCR assays are desirable though not essential as full training will be provided.

To apply

Please check you meet the eligibility criteria before completing the online data collection form; this form is a mandatory part of the application process, but contains ‘prefer not to say’ options for all questions asked.

Once you have completed the online data collection form you will receive an email with the application form and details of how to apply to the supervisor. The application form should be completed and emailed to the lead supervisor along with a reference from your personal tutor.