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Cambridge NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Graduate Research Opportunities

Work in the departments of Archaeology, Earth Sciences, Genetics, Geography, Plant Sciences, Zoology, and at BAS examines ecology, land use, population genetics, microbiology, physiology and adaptation, palaeobiology and conservation.


By applying genomics to the use of insects as food, you will be using cutting edge technology to improve global food security
This project, in partnership with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT), aims to fill key knowledge gaps to support the conservation of a severely threatened bumblebee species, Bombus sylvarum, in the UK.
This project aims to understand how climate change can lead to coral bleaching by unpicking the redox triggers that lead to the expulsion of the photosynthetic microorganism, dinoflagellates, from corals.
Investigating the demography, genetics and life histories of ancient humans using spatial population genetic simulation methods and machine learning.
It has been hypothesised that plasticity may precede and facilitate adaptation to novel environments. Further, little is known about how plasticity and genetic divergence interact as populations adapt to novel challenges. Here, we will address these questions by studying a cichlid fish, Astatotilapia calliptera, living in a crater lake (Masoko, Tanzania) that formed only 15,000 years ago.
This project will determine which morphological characters drive the ecological dynamics of some of the first animals.
By integrating genetics, ecology, and climate, you will investigate the key drivers that shaped species diversity in the African continent.
Track how tiny organisms living within the sediment have shaped sediment properties and benthic ecosystems through geological time.
Investigating the fossil record of the Ediacaran macrobiota to constrain the pattern and timing of early animal diversification.
Using novel ground and aerial remote sensing data to understand how European forests are changing in response to climate change, changing management and disturbance.
Detect and track great baleen whales and study their migration patterns using new seismic and hydrophone data from the North Atlantic seafloor.
This project will determine whether selection acts on the family as a unit, as well as on the individuals within it, and investigate the evolutionary causes and consequences of multi-level selection on animal families
This project will determine how the sexes divide up the various duties of care when they cooperate to raise young together, and investigate whether task specialisation by each sex causes the evolution of sexual dimorphism
This project will evaluate the importance of chemical plasticity for butterflies in coping with hostplant shifts through the different seasons, the molecular mechanisms controlling plasticity and its potential fitness costs under laboratory conditions.
This project will use a combination of empirical and modelling approaches to understand the mechanisms and functions of synchronised calling in cicada swarms.
This project will investigate the causes and consequences of postnatal provisioning in fishes, and contribute to the new and rapidly expanding research field that seeks general principles about the function of socially transferred fluids.
Investigation of changes in the fauna of the North Sea against the shifting back drop of environmental change associated with climate change over 4 million years
Invasion of deep-sea: a multidisciplinary study to unravel the biodiversity, evolutionary relationships and history of carnivorous bivalves in the deep sea
This project aims to understand both how and why some flowers produce iridescence.
This project aims to understand the evolution and development of nectar spurs, because they drive reproductive isolation and speciation in both plants and insects.
Innovative controlled-environment and field experiments on tree growth will be used to improve plant growth models for climate change applications.
Terrestrial ecology is a poorly understood component of the global carbon cycle - this project will investigate the mechanisms responsible for the observed spatial and temporal variability in global land-atmosphere CO2 exchange using a new terrestrial ecosystem and land use model.
This project will investigate the mechanisms responsible for the formation of tree rings in seasonal climates, with implications for our understanding of carbon sequestration, tree ecology, and dendroclimatology.
The project will investigate the biomechanics of caterpillar attachment on plant surfaces using silk, and its ecological and evolutionary implications.
The student will use large scale genome sequencing and evolutionary genetics to identify and study genes involved in adaptation and speciation in an iconic evolutionary radiation.
This project will conduct a programme of field research to understand how, and why, wild bee communities respond to changes in farm and landscape management, with a particular focus on the response of the ground-nesting solitary bee community to regenerative agriculture.
This project will use existing long-term insect assemblage and time series datasets to develop and test hypotheses about relationships between insect (or arthropod) abundance and diversity, and the stability and value of the ecological functions and ecosystem services they are responsible for.
The early Proterozoic evolution of eukaryotes was one of the defining transitions in the evolution of life on Earth, but their pre-Ediacaran fossil record remains deeply challenging.
Diverse, exceptionally preserved fossils in the mid-Miocene Clarkia Formation offer one of the most complete views a a palaeo-lacustrine ecosystem on record
Phosphate nodules are common constituents of Mesozoic sedimentary successions, but their palaeontological and biogeochemical significance has yet to be realized
This project will investigate the effects of the 2022 droughts on aquatic communities, identifying which animals and plants are the most tolerant to drying, which are the fastest and slowest to recolonise, and which management techniques may best protect Cambridgeshire's riverine communities from future drought events.
This project will investigate how microplastics are removed and degraded within freshwater ecosystems, providing insights into ecosystem processes and offering opportunities for the development and testing of biological filters.
This project will investigate spatial and temporal patterns of parasites within native and invasive freshwater snails to develop and test fundamental concepts in host-parasite relationships. The effects of parasites on reproduction and behaviour can be studied.
The UN has declared the 2020s as the decade of restoration. An important example of restoration is occurring in New Zealand, where overgrazed pastures in the Southern Alps are undergoing radical change. Under a government initiative, huge swaths of land have been taken out of agriculture and are undergoing succession back to “nature” with little or no further human intervention. Little is known about these successional processes. How rapidly are native species returning? Are invasive plants such as nitrogen-fixing gorse altering successional pathways? Are introduced deer preventing native trees from recolonising? What low-cost interventions are effective are restoring native diversity? Working with local research partner Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research and involving extensive field work alongside remote sensing, the project will quantify how abandoned agricultural lands are recovering. Using time-series of multispectral and lidar imagery, the recovery of native woody vegetation will be tracked through time. The significance of recovering forest fragments as carbon sinks will be evaluated and compared with carbon dynamics in intact native woodlands.
This project at the crossroads between dendrochronology, wood anatomy, and global change ecology will advance our understanding of Alpine treeline dynamics in a warming world by compiling and analysing high-resolution measurements from thousands of seedlings and saplings growing along elevational gradients above the upper treeline in the European Alps.
This project will study variation in melanism in a moth and test the hypothesis that it represents an adaptation to climate.