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Center for Computational and Theoretical Biology

Opportunities (open positions)

Positions in ecosystem modelling

BSc/MSc projects:

Topic 1: How does the regime of pollination loss affect plant extinctions?

Project description:

Events of habitat perturbation are seldom isolated occurrences. Be it climate change, habitat destruction or species invasions, the conditions necessary for species persistence are constantly being altered.

Independently of the regime of perturbation, however, species extinctions are not immediate. Different species will respond differently to the changes in habitat conditions and perish at different rates. In addition, the extinction processes of interacting species can affect each other, since their persistence depends on the services they exchange.

In this project, we will use a computer model to study the impact that different regimes of loss of pollination services can have on the extinction dynamics of a plant community. More specifically, we will verify whether metrics of plant extinction (e.g. total number of extinctions, time to extinctions, extinction order) change in scenarios simulating pulse (single occurrence), constant and increasing loss of pollination services.

Requirements: Experience or willingness to work with ecological simulation models and acquire computational skills (R and Julia programming languages, software version control)

Application: a letter of motivation to PhD candidte contact Ludmilla Figueiredo (ludmilla.figueiredo@uni-wuerzburg.de) and to Prof. Dr. Juliano Sarmento Cabral (juliano.sarmento_cabral@uni-wuerzburg.de).

 

Topic 2: Does temperature preference in species emerge as metabolic trade-off?

Project description:

Species typically exhibit preferences for particular environmental conditions (fundamental niche). Niche-explicit models take this into account by forcing species to specific niches. Some of these models, however, use yet another temperature dependence: the metabolic theory of ecology (MTE). In MTE biological rates are determined by the body mass of an organism and its system temperature. In general, the smaller an organism and the hotter the temperature, the higher the biological rate.

In this project, we will use a computer model to study how species distribute along temperature gradients without enforcing a fundamental niche. Instead, temperature dependence follows from species' biological rates governed by MTE. Specifically, we will investigate how species body masses distribute along the gradient and whether we will find co-existence of strategies.

Requirements: Experience or willingness to work with ecological simulation models and acquire computational skills (R and Julia programming languages, software version control)

Application: Contact Ludwig Leidinger (ludwig.leidinger@uni-wuerzburg.de) and/or Prof. Dr. Juliano Sarmento Cabral (juliano.sarmento_cabral@uni-wuerzburg.de).

 

Topic 3: Can assortative mating emerge from post-zygotic reproduction barriers?

Project description:

In many species, individuals are more likely to successfully mate if they are similar to each other. This is accomplished by, e.g., visual cues or physical properties of reproductive organs. Additionally, offspring may qualify as unviable because of genetic incompatibilities or unfit phenotypes.

In this project, we will use a computer model to study how population structure and mating systems are affected by post-zygotic barriers (e.g. unviable or unfit offspring) and whether particular mating systems are more prone to producing isolated subpopulations than others.

Requirements: Experience or willingness to work with ecological simulation models and acquire computational skills (R and Julia programming languages, software version control)

Application: Contact Ludwig Leidinger (ludwig.leidinger@uni-wuerzburg.de) and/or Prof. Dr. Juliano Sarmento Cabral (juliano.sarmento_cabral@uni-wuerzburg.de).