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Biodiversity and conservation

Floodplain meadow; fritillaries

In response to the current crisis of species extinctions across the globe, research within this theme focuses on the evolution and maintenance of biodiversity with particular emphasis on conservation biology. Various questions in evolutionary biology and population dynamics are addressed, through specialisms in behavioural ecology, environmental physiology and terrestrial microbial ecology. Emphasis is placed on the interpretation of long-term experiments.

A key area of this theme is understanding how land-use changes affect biodiversity, and how more effective conservation management can be developed. The School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences hosts the Floodplain Meadows Partnership, which specialises in the management, promotion and restoration of floodplain meadows. The ecology and conservation of a diverse range of plant and animal species is currently being studied, including brown hares in Yorkshire, bumblebees in Wiltshire and grassland ecology in Siberia. The techniques used range from field survey to experiments in controlled environments. There is a strong focus on citizen science approaches via the Evolution MegaLab and iSpot.

Qualifications available:

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) or an appropriate first degree and postgraduate qualification

Potential research projects

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any aspect of biodiversity and conservation ecology. Lists of postgraduate research projects likely to be available for a 2020 start will become available towards the end of 2019.

Please also see further opportunities.

Current/recent research projects

  • Nutrient availability in floodplain habitats
  • Response of grassland communities to water and nutrient availability
  • Plant community ecology on soil with fluctuating hydrology
  • Survival of microbes in extreme environments
  • Responses of grassland composition to climate change
  • Mammal conservation in tropical forests
  • Management of mineral extraction sites for wader conservation
  • Microbe interaction with minerals and microbial weathering of rocks

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Michelle Aitken
+44 (0)1908 332943

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.