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Looking for a PhD candidate in urban ecology

Project: "Butterflies in the city: eco-evolutionary dynamics of successful urban dwellers"

Urban areas pose novel ecosystems to which many species are not pre-adapted. Recent studies have shown that cities contain fewer species than the (semi)natural areas surrounding them, but some of these urban species can become super abundant. Whether a species can survive and thrive in the urban ecosystems depends on their ability to (pre)adapt to such a new hostile environment, leading to healthy populations dynamics.  With this work, we aim to better understand the eco-evolutionary dynamics of successful urban species by linking species traits (e.g. dispersal ability), phenotypic and genetic changes (e.g. bigger body size) and population dynamics of species with different success rates (in terms of presence and abundance) in urban environments. To do so we will use a set of seven butterfly species known to be found in the cities.

We will make use of the data collected by two butterfly monitor schemes, one in the city of Barcelona (ubms.creaf.cat, running since 2018) and another in the natural areas outside the city (www.catalanbms.org, since 1994); and data on the urban environmental variables gathered via field work and data extraction (already being collected by a technician as part of the ongoing research projectMEDYCI). This project offers the opportunity of learning about (urban) ecology and evolution in ongoing research projects, butterflies biology, state of art statistical and molecular tools, among other skills. With it, we will contribute to the scientific knowledge on species responses to human-induced rapid environmental, a key question in current ecology; and we will target at-risk species and traits due to urbanization. Results will also feed and be used by administrative bodies working on greening the cities (e.g. Adjustment de Barcelona).

Candidate requirements: BSc. in Biology or related with a grade > 8; good level of English and learning capacity. Master in Ecology or similar and knowledge of R will be positively considered. We expect the candidate to apply for a FPU (see 2021 call), a FI grant and/or a UB-Predoc grant; hence requirements and prioritization will be based on these calls.

Supervisors: Yolanda Melero (Universitat de Barcelona); Constantí Stefanescu (Museu de Granollers)

Location: Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona.

Please send a letter of motivation and a CV, including the final grade of your academic record (BSc and MSc), to Yolanda Melero (ymelero@ub.edu) before end of October.