Transferability of ecological models; plant biosecurity

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship partnered with the Department for environment food and rural affairs (Defra) exploring the transferability of epidemiological models for improved plant biosecurity.
There has been a substantial rise in invading plant pests and disease in recent times with changes in climate and global trade and travel. Recent examples include ash dieback and the emerald ash borer, which threaten Ash in the UK, and Xylella fastidiosa which is currently devastating olive crops in Italy and is a threat to multiple host species in the whole EU region. Disease distribution and spread models are commonly used to map the risk of potential invaders in new areas1. This relies on parameterising and validating models using data in areas where a pest already exists, and then transferring predictions to areas where the pest does not occur2. This project will address the extent of this transferability, which has significant implications for pest risk assessment and effective targeting of surveillance programs.
The student will develop skills in spatial analysis, distribution modelling and R, as well as having the chance to be involved in multiple international collaborations. Candidates should have a degree in Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science, or similar, with strong quantitative skills. The student will spend part of their time working within Defra (based in Defra offices in London, Bristol or York depending on project needs). Candidates with degrees in quantitative subjects (maths, physics etc) and a demonstrable interest in environmental applications will also be considered.
Please contact for informal enquiries.
1 Parnell, S., van den Bosch F.,Gottwald, T.R. and Gilligan C.A. 2017. Surveillance for emerging plant disease; an epidemiological perspective. Annual Review of Phytopathology.
2 Yates, K., Bouchet,P., Caley, J., Mengersen, K., Randin, C.F., Parnell, S. et al. 2018. Outstanding Challenges in the Transferability of Ecological Models. Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

PhD position
University of Salford
United Kingdom
Closing date
February 23rd, 2019
Posted on
January 23rd, 2019 11:21
Last updated
January 23rd, 2019 11:21