Dr Jeff Price (UEA)
Dr James Pearce-Higgins (BTO)
Climate change is affecting biodiversity. Species distributions are changing and spring is advancing. In the future, risks are projected to be much greater. At UEA, the Wallace Initiative (wallaceinitiative.org) has used computer models to examine potential impacts of climate change on ~125,000 plants and animals. However, like most other studies, this is based on changes in mean climate.
Biodiversity responds strongly to extreme climatic events (e.g., 2018’s hot, dry summer). Thus, projected impacts based on changes in mean climate may be underestimated. In this project, you will have the opportunity to develop ground-breaking new approaches to explore how species respond to more extreme climatic events. You will greatly improve standard tools and develop entirely new ways to project impacts of climate change on biodiversity globally.
This project is in collaboration with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), allowing you to explore how variability and extreme seasonal events have affected British birds. Steps:
- Use existing computer models and existing projected year to year climate data to explore how species ranges respond to transient changes in climate as opposed to mean climate
- Explore how to adapt these existing computer models to incorporate variables indicative of drought
- Use BTO data to study how extreme climatic events have impacted British bird populations
- Further mine BTO data to determine if overall diversity or habitat intactness makes bird populations more of less susceptible to climatic extremes, or the time it takes to recover
- Feed this information into computer models to improve projections of climate change impacts on biodiversity to better inform climate policy and conservation planning
- Test predictions and methods using high-level data from other regions (e.g., Europe, North America)
You will acquire enhanced computational, programming, statistical and spatial analysis (GIS) skills increasing employability. You will join the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research which informs climate change related decision-making. This is a collaborative project with BTO who will host you for 6 months.
Computational and statistical skills including GIS essential. Knowledge of R preferred. Degree in biological, ecological, computational or climate sciences preferred.