Master student projects in Bio3D

Master student projects in Bio3D

 

Alien networks: Where do non-native species fit into ecological networks

The spread of non-native species is a widespread ecological threat. Many non-native species become invasive with detrimental ecological or economic consequences. The majority of non-native plant species are spread through horticultural pathways.

Botanical gardens host living collections of many native and non-native species in the same locality. This provides an excellent opportunity to investigate the ecology of the species.

The student will work alongside botanists, entomologists and ecologists in this project to address questions such as:

  1. Are pollination and herbivory on non-native plant species by insects predicted by relatedness or functional similarity with native plant species?
  2. Are herbivory levels on non-native species equivalent to those on related or functionally similar native species?
  3. Are pollinator visitation rates to non-native species equivalent to those on related or functionally-similar native species?

The project will involve warm-weather summer fieldwork in Ringve Botanical Gardens, Trondheim. We will record pollinator visitation rates, and herbivory rates on native and non-native species across the botanical gardens and relate these to the phylogenetic relatedness and functional similarity between the species.

Contact James Speed for more information.

Suitable for: 
Ecology, Behaviour, Evolution and Biosystematics, Natural Resource Management

Main supervisor:
James Speed, Department of Natural History

Co supervisors:
Vibekke Vange, Department of Natural History (Ringve Botanical Gardens
Frode Ødegaard, Department of Natural History 

 

Projects in biogeography and ecoinformatics

Do you like ecology, maps and data? Biogeography and ecoinformatics may be just the project for you!

Today there is a huge amount of data available to answer questions related to species distributions and diversity. We can ask what drives patterns in biogeography. We can map the distribution of individual species, patterns in species richness, or even map functional traits at large spatial scales.

Projects can be moulded to the interests of the student: there are many possibilities with different taxa and regions (local, regional or global scales).

Potential topics include:

  • Species distribution modelling
  • Diversity mapping
  • Functional trait biogeography
  • Linking herbivore and plant distributions

Projects can be designed for standard (60 credit) theses or 30 credit theses (e.g. for LUR students).

The student will have the opportunity to learn many new skills, including data handling and analyses, spatial data processing (GIS) and expand their knowledge of biogeography and biodiversity data. Training and support will be provided.

Further reading: Araújo MB & Luoto M. 2007. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 16: 743-753. Speed & Austrheim 2017 Biol Cons 205:77-84.

Contact James Speed for more information.

Suitable for:
Biology (ecology), Natural Resource Management, LUR (Biology)

Main supervisor:
James Speed, Department of Natural History

 

From Jurrasic Park to Yellowstone: Trophic cascades in deep time

Plant productivity supports almost all life on earth. The flow of nutrients to other organisms is regulated through food webs. Trophic interactions are thus fundamental to understanding ecology in space and time.

Classic ecological theories are rooted in trophic dyanmics (Green World [HSS] and exploitation ecosystem hypothses) while recent research efforts have identified trophic cascades in many ecosystems – for example the wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park – where the removal or addition of one trophic level shifts the ecosystem state.

This project will characterise trophic dynamics through space and time, and take into account evolutionary radiation of vertbrates and plants by contrasting the structure of trophic dynamics in different systems from the Jurrasic (reptilian vertebrates, before angiosperms) to modern diverse (Sub-Saharan Africa) and depauperate (human dominated) ecosystems.

The project will involve extracting relevant data from various palaeontological and ecological databases and assimilating these into a trophic dynamics framework. This places the project at the cutting edge interface of modern ecology and palaentology.

Contact James Speed for more information.

Suitable for:
Ecology, Behaviour, Evolution and Biosystematics, Natural Resource Management

Main supervisor:
James Speed, Department of Natural History

 

Moose Barcodes: Linking ungulate food preferences to impacts on forage species

Wild ungulates are at historically high densities in many temperate and boreal regions today. This raises questions regarding their impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems.

In this project we will use a network of moose exclosures around Trøndelag and ask whether the impact of moose browsing on plant species is associated with the selection of those species by moose.

The project will include two components: 1. Collecting plant community data from inside and outside 15 exclosures in Trøndelag. 2. Collecting moose faeces from the same sites in different seasons, and using metabarcoding of plant eDNA within the faeces to identify the species utilized by browsing moose.

The project will involve both field and genetic labwork, giving the student a broad training in a wide range of ecological methods.

Contact James Speed for more information.

Suitable for:
Biology, Ecology, Natural Resource Management

Main supervisor:
James Speed, Department of Natural History

Co supervisor:
Gunnar Austrheim, Department of Natural History