1: Control strategies in multi-host and shared pathogen systems - Biological systems where several host species share a common disease (for example, both cattle and badgers are vulnerable to Bovine TB, or those that cross from wildlife to human) is widespread, and with climate change and globalisation this is becoming an increasing problem. Here control (eradication) of the disease can be critical, however developing a strategy can be difficult. Problems may include situations where controlling (e.g. culling) all the species is not a viable option and so the question arises as to whether the disease can be removed from the system by only controlling a select number of host species. In addition, these problems naturally extend into optimisation problems with an aim of, for example, minimising the number of individuals culled/vaccinated or minimising the total cost.
2: Co-Evolution of Mating Conflict - Natural selection drives the evolution of species towards an optimum state with respect to their current environment. However sexual conflict over mating can often shift species from such optima as individuals attempt to gain their own way during reproductive encounters. Traits that evolve through sexual conflict can reduce the fitness of the opposite sex. For example, males can harass females into accepting unwanted and costly matings; in response females develop both morphological and behavioural traits that enable them to resist unwanted copulations. This antagonistic co-evolution of male and female traits can result in the exaggeration of traits that reduce the fitness of the species as a whole. The studentship will be in collaboration with School of Biological and Environmental Sciences and involve developing established models of co-evolution so that empirical data can be easily entered into them to test their robustness and gain new insights into sexual conflict, natural selection and their interaction.