Supervisor: Dr Frances orton
Eligibility: Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Closing date: Friday, September 22, 2022
Biodiversity loss is occurring at an alarming rate and associations between declines and multiple interacting stressors have been demonstrated from a wide range of taxa. Multiple stressors negatively impact the stability of entire ecosystems through alterations in species interactions. Some of the most important environmental stressors include pollution, invasive species and disease. Both the susceptibility and exposure of wildlife to such stressors is intrinsically linked with climate change, for example, flooding and heatwave events.
Behavioural responses are known to be highly sensitive to pollutants and other environmental stressors under laboratory exposures. Being non-destructive, behavioural responses have high potential applicability for deployment in declining or endangered species. Further, such perturbations may have important consequences for survival in natural ecosystems and thereby contribute to observed declines; for example, predator avoidance. However, very little is known regarding behavioural responses to multiple stressor scenarios, neither in response to laboratory exposures nor in wild individuals.
Therefore, in this project, we will investigate the effects of multiple stressors on behavioural responses of wild tadpoles, both in the field and using field-to-laboratory experimental designs. Using cross-factor experimental designs/in depth profiling of natural ponds, we will further investigate the applicability of behavioural responses for the ranking of stressors for their relative importance for eliciting negative effects; which has importance for conservation.