Leaf morphospace–climate interactions: tracking leaf shape in space and time


Contact Dr Karen Bacon to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

Leaf shape can be highly variable both within and between species and variations in leaf size and shape can relate to changing environmental conditions. Flowering plants (angiosperms) have a greater variability (in general) than non-flowering plants, and woody angiosperms are known to have a strong relationship between climate and temperature, enabling reconstruction of palaeotemperature using well-preserved floras. However, the relationship between leaf morphospace (the occupation of space by leaves) and climate is understudied and there is little understanding of how morphospace occupation may change due to various environmental pressures, climate change, or changes in vegetation across biomes and through time.

This project aims to address this gap in understanding by investigating leaf morphospace occupation in both modern and palaeo floras and how this variation relates to changing climates. Depending on the interests of the student, the project could involve museum work, field work and experimental studies (e.g. leaf shape response to temperature, CO2, other atmospheric gases).

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), and/or a Master's degree in the relevant subject area.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is the ‘Leaf morphospace–climate interactions: tracking leaf shape in space and time' as well as Dr Karen Bacon as your proposed supervisor.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information about the application process please contact Jacqui Manton e: j.manton@leeds.ac.uk