Ecological Sciences

Ecology focuses on the interactions between organisms and their environment. Knowledge of these interactions underpins our understanding of how wildlife will respond to current and future environmental threats, including pollution, climate change, invasive species and habitat destruction. Our mission is to train the next generation that will respond to these issues, identifying solutions and conserving biodiversity into the future.  

If you want to live and learn in an area of outstanding natural beauty that offers access to local ecology and unrivalled wildlife, with stunning countryside on your doorstep offering fantastic recreational opportunities, then Aberystwyth is the place to be. 

  • Top 10 in the UK for overall satisfaction for the subject of Ecology and Environmental Biology (National Student Satisfaction Survey 2021)

Why study Ecology at Aberystwyth University?

  • You will be taught by award-winning ecologists on modules that target knowledge and skills in surveying, identifying and mitigating climate change impacts, habitat restoration, biodiversity assessment and conservation, environmental consultancy. 
  • We have passionate teaching staff that conduct research in all areas of ecology and in different parts of the world. 
  • We place a focus on field skills and learning by experience. 
  • We have direct access to some wonderful locations and habitats, including the Dyfi National Nature Reserve, and Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons National Parks. 
  • We offer international field courses and training opportunities. 
“The Ecology course at Aberystwyth has provided me with a good set of skills which I can utilise and apply to my current role. The field work part of many modules within the Ecology degree scheme has ensured that I have experience of working in outdoor environments, a necessity for many ecological careers. ”
 Pippa Pippa BSc Ecology
“I am very pleased I chose the degree scheme. Interesting content throughout, great support from the lecturers, and comprehensive feedback. A great choice, no regrets.”
Alex Alex BSc Ecology

Employability

Studying Ecological Sciences can lead to many and varied career opportunities including: 

  • Wildlife and Conservation officer 
  • Biodiversity assessor and Habitat surveyor 
  • Site Manager 
  • Education and public engagement 
  • Environmental Consultancy 
  • Ecological Research.  

Facilities

Our Botany Gardens house a wide diversity of plant species within temperate and tropical glasshouses. 

The National Plant Phenomics Centre (NPPC) is home to our world-leading plant breeding programmes and provides state-of-the-art phenotyping platforms, with the aim of delivering integrated phenotyping solutions for key crop and model species. 

Research

The Department of Life Sciences is an internationally-recognised research and teaching centre providing a unique base for research in response to global challenges such as food security, bioenergy and sustainability, and the impacts of climate change. Our scientists conduct research on genes and molecules, whole organisms and the environment.

Ecological and Evolutionary Research Group

Ecological and Evolutionary Research spans terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. We undertake research into water, soils, plants and animals (invertebrates and vertebrates) and their interactions. We employ a range of approaches across different temporal and spatial scales to address key questions about how ecosystems work and how they operate. Whilst we are interested in the present, our research extends into the future by looking at how a wide range of climate change variables such as increased warming, CO2, ocean acidification and ultra violet radiation will impact on ecosystems.

Our research is integrated with teaching and we see our laboratories and the field as our training ground. Areas of focus include:

  • soil and its component parts
  • plant ecophysiology and how plants respond to abiotic and biotic stresses in semi-natural communities
  • the close relationship between plants and invertebrates, including marine alage and herbivores
  • how grazing animals including livestock affect plant communities
  • the nature of competition and how plant and animal communities work
  • techniques for making space for nature within coastal engineered structures.

Plant Genome and Chromosome Biology Research Group

This group undertakes varied research into the biology of grasses, cereals and legumes. We apply genomic, cytogenetic and bioinformatic analyses in the generation and analysis of novel crop plant phenotypes. The National Plant Phenomics Centre (NPPC) is hosted within the department and is used by many of our members. It offers state-of-the-art phenotyping platforms with the aim of delivering integrated phenotyping solutions for key crop and model species. It uses innovative technologies to measure plant performance and physiology at different scales, from the molecular and cellular to organ and population level.

This group focuses on:

  • the genetics and genomics of the forage grasses Lolium perenne (perennial ryegrass) and Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue)
  • the genetics and genomics of cultivated hexaploid oats (Avena sativa) and the development of experimental resources using tetraploid and diploid relatives
  • the molecular phylogenetics of Avena and Brachypodium spp
  • the molecular cytogenetics of meiotic recombination and genome constitution in various plant species
  • the development of ‘bioinformatics for breeding’ computational tools and resources which integrate the results of genotypic and phenotypic investigations.

The Aquatic, Behavioural & Evolutionary Biology Research Group

This group employs interdisciplinary approaches towards a unifying interest: how animals adapt to their environment. Within this aim we use a wide range of field- and lab-based techniques to investigate key questions in ecology, evolution and behaviour of wild populations. We combine group-wide expertise and activities to provide high quality research-led teaching.

Members of this group look at:

  • invertebrate behavioural plasticity & population ecology
  • the evolution of aquatic organisms and their parasites
  • opisthobranch biology and population genetics
  • behaviour, birdsong & urban adaptation
  • the cognition and neurophysiological control of animal behaviour
  • invertebrate neuroethology
  • the evolution of aquatic biodiversity and population connectivity
  • circadian and circatidal rhythms in marine organisms.