Project proposal details

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Project title
Unraveling the mechanistic basis of temperature-dependent growth rates in ectotherms
Contact name
Samraat Pawar
Project based at
Silwood Park (Imperial)
Imperial contact email
Project description
All ectotherms show a predictable, unimodal response of individual and population growth to temperature. However, we still do not quite understand how metabolic constraints determine the shape of this thermal response. This is a crucial issue, because growth rate helps quantify individual and population fitness, and its temperature dependence is therefore key to understanding the effects of climatic fluctuations on populations and ecosystems. In this project, the student will develop and test mathematical models of growth rate in ectotherms. The model development and analysis will involve parameterization as well as testing/validation using the BioTraits Database ( There are a number of organismal groups to choose from, but four in particular are promising because of data availability: (1) Phytoplankton, (2) Heterotrophic Prokaryotes, (3) Insects, and (4) Fish.

Here are some references:
1. García-Carreras, B. et al. Role of carbon allocation efficiency in the temperature dependence of autotroph growth rates. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 115, E7361–E7368 (2018).
2. Dell, A. I., Pawar, S. & Savage, V. M. Systematic variation in the temperature dependence of physiological and ecological traits. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 108, 10591–10596 (2011).
3. Savage, V. M., Gillooly, J. F., Brown, J. H., West, G. B. & Charnov, E. L. Effects of body size and temperature on population growth. Am. Nat. 163, 429–441 (2004).
4. Economo, E. P., Kerkhoff, A. J. & Enquist, B. J. Allometric growth, life-history invariants and population energetics. Ecol. Lett. 8, 353–360 (2005).
Additional requirements
Computer programming in R, Python, or equvalent
Available support
Desk space, computer
Date uploaded

Project proposal limitations

The project proposer has indicated that there are some limitations to the availability of this project. It may only be available at certain times of year or suit a specific project length. It may also need skills taught to students on a particular course or courses.

Research project proposals are usually part of an active research programme. If supervisors have stated limitations to a proposal, then they are unlikely to have any flexibility. If you are very interested in the topic but have problems with the stated limitations, the supervisor may still be happy to talk to you about other options around the proposal, but you should not expect that any alternative arrangements can be made.

Project length limitations
5 months, 9 months
Available date limitations
Winter (January), Spring (April-May)
Suitable for
Ecology Evolution and Conservation, Conservation Science, Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution (MSc), Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution (MRes), Ecological Applications, Ecosystem and Environmental Change MRes