A traits-based approach to predicting and mitigating the impacts of a devastating amphibian pathogen under climate change


The ACCE DTP is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, faith or religious belief, pregnancy or maternity, parental or caring responsibilities or career pathway to date. We understand that a student’s potential can be shown in many ways and we strive to recruit students from all backgrounds, and support them on their scientific journey.

We have designed our application systems to identify candidates who are likely to be successful in research regardless of what opportunities may have been available to them prior to their application.

Various support and guidance on applying for an ACCE DTP studentship, including how to apply; what we’re looking for (including our assessment rubric); details of financial support, training, and placement opportunities available; and details of our recruitment process, can be found at https://accedtp.ac.uk, in the ‘prospective applicants’ tab.

Project overview


Globalisation and climate change drive pathogen emergences that threaten global biodiversity. Pathogens exhibit variation in their ability to infect, replicate, and transmit, but we don’t understand how these key traits will alter transmission dynamics under future climate change. The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has gained a global distribution and is responsible for the declines of >500 amphibian species worldwide. We know there is considerable variation between Bd strains in their trait responses to temperature, which will drive different responses to climate change, and we have begun to explore how different Bd lineages occupy different climate envelopes.

This studentship will develop mechanistic mathematical models, informed by lab and field data, to predict how future climatic scenarios may act on these traits to shape Bd emergence and impact. The focus of the project is Southern Africa where, with our Project Partners (North West University, SANBI, Endangered Wildlife Trust and Synchronicity Earth), the student will help to set disease management priorities for Southern African amphibian biodiversity.


  1. Collect isolates in South Africa and use these to quantify Bd thermal trait responses in vitro;
  2. Use these data to develop models to understand how temperature-dependent traits drive Bd emergence and transmission;
  3. Combine these models with climate-prediction scenarios to predict future hotspots of high Bd risk;
  4. Work with in-country partners to combine outputs with their amphibian climate modelling outputs to identify amphibian species at high future risk, and develop strategies to mitigate future Bd impact.


Southern Africa is one of the world’s regions most affected by climate change. Predicting and managing future Bd risks requires a clear understanding of temperature-trait interactions. Quantifying variation in Bd trait responses to temperature presents a major opportunity to understand these processes, predict future hotspots of lethal chytridiomycosis, and plan appropriate mitigation steps accordingly.

Essential and desirable criteria


  • Ecology background
  • Quantitative (data management/analysis) skills
  • Interest in conservation biology
  • Good communicator
  • Able to work productively as part of a team


  • Mathematical modelling experience/able to demonstrate ability to learn modelling skills
  • Lab experience
  • Field conservation experience

How to apply

Notes and details of how to apply are available here: https://accedtp.ac.uk/phd-opportunities/

All applicants to ACCE must complete the ACCE personal statement proforma. This is instead of a personal/supporting statement or cover letter. The proforma is designed to standardise this part of the application to minimise the difference between those who are given support and those who are not. Candidates should also submit a CV and the contact details of 2 referees.

Part-time study options

All ACCE PhDs are available as part time or full time, with part time being a minimum of 50% of full time. Please discuss potential part time arrangements with the primary supervisor before applying to the programme.

Project CASE status

This project is not a CASE project. While individual applicant quality is our overriding criterion for selection, the ACCE DTP has a commitment for 40% of all studentships to be CASE funded - as such, CASE projects may be favoured in shortlisting applicants when candidates are otherwise deemed to be equal or a consensus on student quality cannot be reached. This will only be done as a last resort for separating candidates.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

NERC ACCE DTP programme starts from October 2024.
UKRI provide the following funding for 3.5 years:

  • Stipend (2023/24 UKRI rate £18,622)
  • Tuition Fees at UK fee rate (2023/24 rate £4,712)
  • Research support and training grant (RTSG)

Note - UKRI funding only covers UK (Home) fees. The DTP partners have various schemes which allow international students to join the DTP but only be required to pay home fees. Home fees are already covered in the UKRI funding, meaning that successful international candidates do not need to find any additional funding for fees.



1.Daversa, D.R., Bosch,, J., Manica, A., Garner, T.W.J. & Fenton, A. 2022. Host identity matters – up to a point: the community context of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis transmission. The American Naturalist 200, 584-597. https://doi.org/10.1086/720638.
2.Farthing, H.N., Jang, J., Henwood, A.J., Fenton, A., Garner, T.W.J., Daversa, D.R., Fisher, M. & Montagnes, D.J.S. 2021. Microbial grazers may aid in controlling infections caused by aquatic zoosporic fungi. Frontiers in Microbiology 11, 592286. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.592286.
3.Doherty‐Bone, T., Cunningham, A., Fisher, M., Garner, T., Ghosh, P., Gower, D., Verster, R. & Weldon, C. 2020. Amphibian chytrid fungus in Africa–realigning hypotheses and the research paradigm. Animal Conservation, 23(3): 239-244. DOI: 10.1111/acv.12538 
4.Ghosh, P.N., Verster, R., Sewell, T.R., O’Hanlon, S.J., Brookes, L.M., Rieux, A., Garner, T.W.J., Weldon, C. & Fisher, M.C. 2021. Discriminating lineages of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis using quantitative PCR. Molecular Ecology Resources, 21: 1452-1459. DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.13299