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Modelling Biodiversity and Pattern Formation with Evolutionary Games


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Competition funded
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Professor Mauro Mobilia
School of Mathematics
Research groups/institutes
Applied Mathematics
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Understanding the maintenance of biodiversity and the emergence of cooperation are important topics in the Life and Behavioural Sciences. Evolutionary game theory, where the success of one species depends on what the others are doing, provides a promising mathematical framework to study the dynamics of interacting populations. <br /> <br /> As paradigmatic examples, the prisoners dilemma and the rock-paper-scissors games have emerged as a fruitful metaphor for cooperative and co-evolutionary dynamics, with applications in microbiology and ecology. While mathematical biology classically deals with deterministic, often spatially homogeneous, models; the joint effects of noise and spatial degrees of freedom are important for realistic description of population dynamics. In our research, we use stochastic processes, differential equations and computer simulations to study the dynamics of interacting populations. Our approach will be to adopt an individual-based metapopulation model formulation in which interacting sub-populations are subdivided in connected islands and can migrate from one patch to another.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>&nbsp;In our research, we use stochastic processes, differential equations and computer simulations to study the dynamics of interacting populations broadly motivated by the problems of maintenance of biodiversity, species coexistence and evolution of cooperation. Possible lines of investigation are:</p> <p>(i) It has recently been demonstrated that populations movement can have important evolutionary implications. Here, we shall consider evolutionary models with realistic forms of mobility (e.g,. inspired by chemotaxis) and different types of interactions between the species (e.g., to account for long-range interactions between bacteria, or mutations), and study the joint influence of movement and randomness on population&#39;s self-organisation, species coexistence, and on survival&nbsp; and extinction scenarios.</p> <p>(ii) Mathematical models of population dynamics are classically formulated in terms of rate equations whose predictions are known to be altered by stochastic effects. The extinction of sub-populations and the fixation of mutants are striking examples of the influence of stochastic noise. To analyse these phenomena we will notably use suitable size expansion methods (e.g.<br /> diffusion approximation, WBK theory) that will allow us to account for random fluctuations of various intensity. It will be interesting to carry out this line of research for ecologically and biologically motivated models, first in well-mixed and then spatially-structured populations</p> <p>(iii) In nature, organisms often interact with a finite number of individuals in their neighbourhood. The population is thus heterogeneously structured and cannot be described by well-mixed models. This often results in patterns observed in ecosystems and whose origin is an intense subject of research. According to Turing&#39;s deterministic theory, diffusion can yield pattern-forming instabilities in systems if some specific conditions are satisfied. However, these conditions are often too stringent, and pattern formation has been observed in many ecosystems where they would not be expected according to Turing&#39;s theory. In this context, it has recently been proposed that noise together with movement can be a mechanism responsible for the emergence of patterns. We would like to test this scenario by investigating the origin of pattern formation in paradigmatic examples like the &quot;rock-paper-scissor&quot; model and its variants, in the presence of both demographic and envionmental fluctuations. In our approach, we will adopt an &quot;individual-based&quot; metapopulation model formulation in which interacting sub-populations are subdivided in connected islands and can migrate from one patch to another.</p> <p>Some aspects of this research are related to the interdisciplinary project <a href="">Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics of Fluctuating Populations</a>, an international collaboration funded by the <a href="">EPSRC in the UK</a> and the NSF in the USA.</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for <em><strong>PHD Applied Mathematics FT</strong></em>&nbsp;in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>Modelling Biodiversity and Pattern Formation with Evolutionary Games&nbsp;</strong></em>as well as <a href="">Professor Mauro Mobilia</a>&nbsp;as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing"><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. &nbsp;We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents at the point you submit your application:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> <li>Funding information including any alternative sources of funding that you are applying for or if you are able to pay your own fees and maintenance</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:12px"><strong>Self-Funded or externally sponsored students are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Doctoral Scholarships</a> and <a href="">Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship</a> are available to UK applicants (open from October 2023). <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Non-UK </strong>&ndash;The&nbsp;<a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China (open from October 2023). The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to support US citizens. <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Important:&nbsp;</strong> Any costs associated with your arrival at the University of Leeds to start your PhD including flights, immigration health surcharge/medical insurance and Visa costs are <strong>not </strong>covered under these studentships.</p> <p>Please refer to the <a href="">UKCISA</a> website for information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions: e:&nbsp;<a href="">m</a><a href=""></a>,&nbsp;</p> <p>For further information about this project, please contact Professor Mauro Mobilia: e:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>