Funded PhD OpportunityComputational modelling of ecological networks

Subject: Computer Science and Informatics


Ecological systems are made up of complex networks of interacting species, consisting of various predators, prey and base level environmental resources. In this project existing and new mathematical models of such systems will be investigated computationally to investigate the dynamical behaviour, including the stability of various ecological networks. Such models allow ‘virtual experimentation’ with models resulting in rich data sets. A key aspect of the project will be investigating appropriate ways to analyse and interpret the data sets obtained.

The objectives of the project are as follows:
(i) Identify and extend predator-prey models of complex ecological networks which allow for mutation and natural selection.
(ii) Study the resulting models via computational simulation along with data analysis and, if appropriate, mathematical analysis.
(iii) Investigate the behaviour of these models by exploring how network properties vary with changes in model parameters and how large-scale extinctions, for example, can occur.

G Abernethy, M McCartney and D H Glass (2017) The Interaction between Predator Strategy and Prey Competition in a pair of Multi-Predator Multi-Prey Lattices. Communications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation, 56, 9-33.

G Abernethy, R Mullan, D H Glass and M McCartney (2016) A multiple phenotype predator–prey model with mutation. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, 465, 762-774.

R Mullan, G Abernethy, D H Glass and M McCartney (2016) A single predator multiple prey model with prey mutation. Communications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation, 40, 51-70.

R Mullan, D H Glass and M McCartney (2015) Species Diversity and Predation Strategies in a Multiple Species Predator-Prey model. Communications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation, 25, 118-135.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed equivalent via UK NARIC)

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 70%


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of not less than £14,553 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.

    Department for the Economy (DfE)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees at the home rate and, for applicants with UK residence only, a maintenance allowance of not less than £14.553 per annum for three years. EU residents may also apply but, if successful, will receive fees only.

Other information

Launch of the Doctoral College

Current PhD researchers and an alumnus shared their experiences, career development and the social impact of their work at the launch of the Doctoral College at Ulster University.

Watch Video

Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 19 February 2018
Interview Date
9 to 23 March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Dr David Glass

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #237820 when applying for this PhD opportunity