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Postgraduate research project

Modelling the evolution of adaptive responses to climate change across spatial landscapes

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Social Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Through increasing periods of drought, higher temperatures and extreme events, future climate change will introduce new selection pressures on species. As many species will be unable to shift their ranges fast enough to track suitable climatic conditions[1], their ability to thrive or even to survive will depend on how well and how quickly they are able to adapt to new conditions. Climate change vulnerability assessments are often based on forecasts from species distribution models, that project forward where current suitable climatic conditions for a given species will be found in the future. However this fails to account for the possibility that populations can evolve adaptations to new conditions and so survive in (or near) their current range[2]. Consequently these predictions can be inaccurate, potentially leading to misplaced conservation efforts. This PhD project will develop a forecasting framework for species ranges that includes evolutionary responses to environmental change. We will test our approach using data from European bat species showing adaptation along climatic gradients. Bats provide an excellent case study of adaptation in long-lived wild species because of their sensitivity to environmental change, and therefore can demonstrate the potential of our approach for forecasting future distributions for species of conservation concern.


  • Professor Rebecca Hoyle (University of Southampton)
  • Doctor Orly Razgour (University of Exeter)
  • Doctor Mark Chapman (University of Southampton)
  • Doctor Kurt Polzin (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)