Research course

Animal Ecology

University of Glasgow · College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
PhDIntegrated PhDMS by research

Entry requirements

A 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent.

Months of entry


Course content

We aim to predict the consequences of rapid environmental change such as that due to climate, habitat loss, renewable energy growth, pollution and over-exploitation of natural resources on biodiversity and human and animal health.

The environment is changing faster than at any time in recorded history due to a range of factors including climate change, habitat loss, renewable energy developments, pollution and over-exploitation of natural resources. These changes are having profound effects on biodiversity and human and animal health, and we need to be able to predict the consequences.

Our School integrates studies of the effects of environmental change operating at all levels of biological organisation. For instance, at the cellular level we are investigating how environmental conditions influence physiological and molecular processes including metabolism, oxidative damage, telomere loss and the rate of ageing. This is linked to studies of how individual animals and plants cope with environmental fluctuations, and how in turn this influences population dynamics, species interactions (including those between parasites, vectors and their hosts) and community structure. We conduct both short-term experiments and long-term monitoring of wild populations (at a range of field sites including loch and woodland research programmes at SCENE, our field station on the banks of Loch Lomond).

We have many links to other research being undertaken both within the School and the wider university. For example:

  • the effect of environmental conditions on disease transmission or food production
  • investigation of how animals evolve in the face of changing environments
  • links with geographers, statisticians and mathematicians in the College of Science and Engineering

A variety of approaches are used, including collection of experimental and observational data, epidemiological, mathematical, computational and statistical modelling, bioinformatics, physiology, parasitology, immunology and polyomics (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics). Individual research projects are tailored around the expertise of principal investigators within our Schools. Basic and applied science projects are available involving field, laboratory and in silico approaches within research programs underway in both the UK and overseas.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • conservation management of African ecosystems
  • protected area management
  • measuring biodiversity and abundance (this presumably overlaps with other themes)
  • human dimensions of conservationAquatic ecosystem connectivity
  • sustainable aquaculture
  • behavioural and physiological approaches to improved production and welfare of farmed fish
  • evolutionary ecology, life-history trade-offs and phenotypic evolution
  • long-term effects of early environments on adult performance
  • phenotypic plasticity and flexibility in variable environments
  • ecology and physiology of marine animals
  • effects of Marine Protected Areas
  • effects of climate change on the abundance, body size, physiology and behaviour of aquatic organisms
  • fisheries-induced evolution
  • applied poultry science
  • evolutionary processes within rare fish populations
  • conservation strategies for rare and endangered fish and bird species
  • control of invasive non-native species
  • impact of freshwater and marine renewable technologies on fish
  • evolutionary and ecological impacts on parasite life cycles
  • avian behaviour and ecology, including both marine and terrestrial birds
  • changes in phenology and in daily rhythms
  • migration and movement of birds, mammals and fish
  • understanding how biological clocks affect organisms' response to environmental change
  • effects of urbanisation on health of individuals, populations and ecosystems
  • effects of light pollution
  • understanding how biological clocks help or hinder organisms' adjustment to environmental change
  • cold adaptation in marine mammals and birds
  • the effect of environmental stress on the physiology, behaviour and life histories
  • applied poultry science
  • ecology of neotropical rainforest birds
  • the effect of fishing practices on the evolution of wild fish populations (fisheries induced evolution)
  • the effects of animal physiology and environmental change on animal social behaviour and collective decision-making
  • effects of exposure to pollutants on physiological systems
  • possible transmission of antimicrobial resistance between species through environmental pollution
  • effect of climate change and deforestation on vector-borne disease
  • data-driven modelling of population dynamics and epidemics
  • developing new methods for species distribution modelling

Information for international students

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • 6.5 with no sub-test under 6.0.
  • Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements using a single test.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    60 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    36-48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • Integrated PhD
    full time
    60 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • MS by research
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details