DTC BIO 3 - Project Title: Reptile Radiations: Investigating the Diversification Dynamics of a Diverse Animal Group

Project Description: Reptiles represent a large animal group with over 10,000 species and a wide diversity of biological traits, including examples of model systems for evolutionary radiation and convergence (anole lizards), body size (monitor lizards), body shape (limblessness), and a range of other biologically interesting attributes. Nevertheless, the speciation and extinction dynamics are poorly understood for most reptile lineages, including some of the aforementioned classic case studies in evolution. This project therefore aims to investigate the diversification dynamics of reptiles using phylogenetic comparative methods, with an aim to reveal what factors have been important in generating the diversity we see today and to gain a better understanding of the broader drivers of diversification patterns in the evolution of animals.


DTC BIO 4 - Project Title: Macroevolution of niche breadth: what determines the direction of trends towards specialism or generalism?

Project Description: Animals vary greatly in the diversity of ecological resources (such as food) they exploit, from specialists feeding on a single prey species to generalists eating almost anything they can overpower and ingest. Whether specialists have arisen from generalist lineages or whether generalists evolve by specialists expanding their niche space is a question which has been studied in many groups, but the answers have been conflicting as both patterns are observed in different taxa. This project will collect information on niche breadth across many animal groups and analyse this in a phylogenetic framework to understand what factors lead to either generalist-from-specialist or specialist-to-generalist pathways predominating the evolution of niche breadth.

DTC BIO 13 - Project Title: Can diet influence natural UV protection?

Project Description: Over the past two decades the zebrafish (Danio rerio) has become an important human model in the fields of genetics, toxicology and developmental biology to study a range of human diseases. One of the most common foods for zebrafish larvae are rotifers, which feed on algae some of which are known to contain ‘sunscreen’ compounds: mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs).  This project aims to research whether a diet rich in MAAs can transfer and enhance UV protection in zebrafish.


DTC BIO 14 - Project Title: Photosynthetic regulation in the red algae Porphyridium cruentum.

Project Description: Algae live in a dynamic environment and have the capacity to regulate photosynthesis and photoregulation accordingly. Red algae are of particular interest because in addition to photosystems I and II they contain phycobilisomes. This project will use transcriptome and metabolome approaches to understand photosynthetic regulation in the red microalgal species Porphyridium cruentum.


DTC BIO 16 - Project Title: Understanding the effect of benthic bioturbation on chemical dynamics in lakes using an integrated biology, physics and modelling approach

Project Description: Successful invasion by Chaoborus larvae (phantom midge) represents an ecological tipping point in eutrophic lakes where bioturbation of Chaoborus sustains internal nutrient loading, water deoxygenation and release of sediment methane. This project aims at studying the fine-scale Chaoborus bioturbation behaviour, its effects on chemical exchange at the sediment-water interface, and the ramifications for past and present ecosystem states. The project includes a collaborative field, lab and modelling work with scientists at the University of Geneva.


 DTC BIO 17 Project Title: The photosynthetic flatworm Symsagittifera roscoffensis– from autecology to biotechnology

Project Description: The intertidal acoel flatworm Symsagittifera roscoffensis contains the symbiotic microalga Tetraselmis sp., which through photosynthesis can contribute as a significant (sole) energy supplier for the host. This project aims at studying the occurrence and distribution of S. roscoffensis in south Wales and neighbouring regions, its (photo-) physiology, growth and reproduction in relation to its algal symbionts, and potential aquaculture applications of S. roscoffensis. The project involves field survey and laboratory experiments and uniquely links basic ecology to applied science.

How to apply for a Biosciences Research Degree Project

Candidates must have a minimum of an upper second class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, or an appropriate Master’s degree (with Merit). Informal enquiries are welcome by emailing the project supervisor.

Please send the following to science-scholarships@swansea.ac.uk and include the reference number of the reference number of the project in the email subject line (eg DTC BIO 1):

  • A comprehensive CV to include:
  • Details of qualifications, including grades
  • Details of any current and relevant employment or work experience
  • A covering letter stating why the project you are applying for particularly matches your skills and experience and how you would choose to develop the project