Dr Manuela Truebano, School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth
Prof Melody Clark, British Antarctic Survey (BAS)
Dr Helen Findlay, Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML)
Dr Enrico Rezende, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC)
Dr Peter Cotton, School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth
In the context of climate change, it is imperative to determine to what extent species have the capacity to persist in a warmer environment. Yet beyond studies in model species, we understand little of the potential for adaptation in wild populations. While traditional studies predict that climate change will lead to a reduction in biodiversity, predictions are often based on short-term experiments focusing on one life stage or generation. Recent studies show that some aquatic species can acclimate to elevated temperatures, such as those projected under climate change scenarios, across generations. This phenomenon, known as “transgenerational acclimation”, could be a powerful mechanism by which populations of some species adjust to environmental change. Despite its potential importance in modifying species’ response to novel environments, its effects on species’ ability to respond long-term to climate change, in terms of fitness and reproductive output, are largely unexplored. Moreover, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underpinning transgenerational acclimation is limited.
This project aims to investigate processes that lead to rapid adaptive responses by testing how parental exposure to thermally stressful environments improves offspring performance under the same conditions.
You will use an experimental approach to test the effects of transgenerational exposure to elevated temperatures on behavioural, physiological and life-history performance of ecologically-important aquatic organisms. Physiological and life-history measurements will be incorporated into predictive models to forecast potential population effects of projected climate change. You will use state-of-the-art genetic sequencing and bioinformatics to examine patterns of gene expression, and correlate them with physiological and behavioural performance of amphipods acclimated to elevated temperatures, to identify which genes drive acclimation in each trait.
You will join a multi-disciplinary team to develop expertise in ecophysiology, genomics, behavioural ecology, evolutionary biology, and population modelling. You will receive training in:
- – Animal husbandry, eco-physiological (respirometry, thermal assays) and molecular tools (RNA isolation/QC, qPCR) (UoP)
- – Bioinformatics (BAS)
- – Population/physiological modelling (PML/UC).
- – Data analysis, critical thinking, scientific writing.
The ARIES DTP provides a comprehensive training programme for transferable skills.
BSc degree in biology or related field. An interest in animal physiology and evolution, and strong quantitative analysis skills are essential.