Student projects

Below you will find our major research themes in which we host student projects - click on a headline to learn more - and find inspiration for various student projects, bachelor's projects and theses at the Department here


Behavioural Ecology studies the ecological pressures that shape animal behaviour from an evolutionary perspective. Animal behaviour constitutes the bridge between the genes and the environment in which animals live.

Specializing in this area will provide you with a general understanding of how animals, from ants to whales, react to their social and ecological environment, and hence adapt, survive and reproduce. The fields of behavioural ecology and animal behaviour inform the fields of conservation and animal welfare, which are highly relevant to the increasing societal concerns for our environment and the animals that live in it. Knowledge acquired in this field will thus be useful for your future projects, classes and career.

Practical research can focus on the behaviour of a large range of animals, ranging from ants and termites to horses and giraffes. Projects will usually involve hands-on experience with data collection in the lab, in the field (e.g. zoo, farms) or video analysis.

Keywords: understanding the complexity of animal behaviour and its link with the environment, including animal cognition, communication, emotions and social interactions.





Microorganisms play important roles in many ecosystems, either on their own or associated with animal and plant hosts, and microbial ecology and evolution seeks to understand their diversity, roles, functions and evolution.

Specializing in this area will provide you with a general understanding of microbes and their adaptations to the environments within which they grow and reproduce, either on their own as symbionts. Because of the tremendous importance of microorganisms in natural ecosystems and industry, projects in this area open up for many job opportunities.

Practical research will often focus on ants and termites and their associated mutualistic and parasitic microorganisms - in our programs mostly fungi and bacteria. Typical projects will combine conceptual training with hands-on experience in the lab or the field, and can include microbiological methods, assay testing, and sequencing individual or communities of microbes.

Keywords: understanding the diversity and functional roles of microbes in natural environments; microbial physiology; host-symbiont coevolution.







All organisms interact with members of their own species and with other species, meaning that all life is essentially social. Social interactions can be either beneficial (cooperation, mutualism) or harmful (parasitism; cheating on social partners). The theory behind social evolution is very well established, so that we can test hypotheses and predict outcomes of interactions in a range of different organisms.

Specializing in this area will provide you with a general understanding of biological adaptation by natural selection, which gives you qualifications that you can apply in later projects, and in future classes and jobs. The field of social evolution also includes evolutionary medicine, which asks why natural selection has not removed human vulnerability to infectious and degenerative diseases.

Practical research focuses on ants and termites and their associated mutualistic and parasitic symbionts. Projects will usually combine conceptual training with hands-on experience with lab experiments, field biology and (for evolutionary medicine) analysis of big public health data.

Keywords: understanding how natural selection works; thinking clearly about big questions of cooperation and conflict






The genome is the blueprint of all life containing all necessary information that makes up a biological organism. In the era of the genome, we are faced with a new grand challenge problem, the source and the principle of genome evolution. The neutral theory has been very well established in population genetics and has become a useful theory to establish statistical models for detecting the natural selection signals that might function on the genomic variations in both intra- and inter-species comparison.

Specializing in this area will provide you with a general understanding of the biological processes that create the various types of mutations which can be transmitted from parent to offspring, spread in population, and establish barriers of reproductive isolation leading the species diversification. Because the genomic mutations are also the source of many inherited diseases and cancers, studies in this field have also important implications to the biomedical researches.

Practical research focuses on the sources of mutations covering single nucleotide variations, structural variations, gene gain or loss, and other chromosome level/whole genome level changes. Projects will usually combine large-scale genome sequencing and bioinformatic analyses.







Community ecologists are fascinated by the diversity of life and seek to understand how this diversity is distributed in space and time across the planet. Our insights yield rigorous predictions about how biodiversity will change in the future, and our expertise is in high demand given the threats posed by global change (land use, climate etc).

Community ecologists integrate big-picture ideas about the causes of biodiversity patterns (e.g. latitudinal diversity gradients), theoretical predictions about species interactions (e.g. niches and co-existence), and empirical research about how communities are assembled, how they persist, and how they interact in metacommunities. We do this research using field, laboratory, and natural experiments, and apply many modeling and statistical approaches, while also using molecular tools like eDNA and population genomics. This research takes us to field sites across the planet, from rainforests in Panama to boreal forests in Sweden.

Research topics span disciplines  including conservation biology, invasive species biology, and applied ecosystem restoration. Training areas include biodiversity fieldwork skills, data exploration using R and modelling techniques, molecular biodiversity tools, and eco-physiology methods. Research topics in the Section for Ecology and Evolution, include the community ecology of insects with a focus on ants, mycorrhizal fungi, plants, and endangered butterflies.







Biodiversity genomics is a new cross-disciplinary research field that appeared in the last decade owing to the fast development of the sequencing technology. With the sequencing cost reduced sharply, it is now feasible to produce and compare whole genomes across many wild-living species. By integrating the morphological, life-historical and ecological data from the species of interest, we now can reveal the genomic mechanisms that underlying the evolutionary processes of biological diversity.

Specializing in this area will provide you a general understanding of how we can retrace the speciation processes using genomic data and reveal the genomic changes that might contribute to the speciation and adaptation. Research in this field often integrates the knowledge on genomics and evolutionary biology by applying cutting-edge genomic technologies and computational tools. The research outputs can offer an integrated view about how the natural selection functions at different levels, from an individual gene, network of interacting molecules in the cell, to whole organisms that constitute the current biodiversity. Skills acquired from this field will thus be useful for your future projects and career.

Practical research focuses on ants, termites and birds, all species-rich groups, and can include their associated fungal and bacterial symbionts. The research topics cover the phylogenetics, developmental biology, conservation biology, and population genetics. The training includes genome sequencing, genomic data analyses and genetic manipulation.







Human activities have resulted in major reductions in biodiversity worldwide, which has ongoing consequences for the abundance and survival of many species, as well as direct and indirect effects on human well-being. Conservation biology attempts to understand effects on biological diversity at all levels from genes to communities, and how human effects can potentially be reduced or mitigated.

Specializing in this area will give you an understanding of how scientific evidence for effects on biodiversity can be collected, and when and how practical evidence-based recommendations for conservation measures can be made.

Practical research will often focus on particular threatened species or habitats, or examining correlations between biological diversity and human activities (be it exploitation or restoration). Projects can be very varied, but at one end of the spectrum have often involved using modern DNA based techniques to examine community diversity, diets of invasive species or population genetics, as well as traditional morphologically based assessments of biological diversity, and ranging to detailed assessments of the abundance and distribution of particular species.

Keywords: Biodiversity, Genetic diversity, Demography, Population size, Threatened species, Habitat restoration.






Population genetics focuses on why and how genetic variation is distributed within and among populations. Changes in allele frequencies in time and space tell us how populations evolve and exchange individuals with other populations, and how the environment influences these processes.

Although the principles of population structure have a theoretical basis that was defined nearly 100 years ago, Population genetic studies use molecular genetic markers based on rad-sequencing, microsatellites, SNPs and DNA sequencing to examine and describe these principles. Bioinformatic analyses use evolutionary and demographic models based on coalescence and MCMC Bayesian statistics to explain diversity and distribution patterns.

In the section for ecology and evolution we use population genetics in studies of epidemics of fungal plant pathogens and to determine the relative importance of clonal and sexual reproduction. In conservation biology, population genetics is used to reveal how populations are structured and to determine gene flow between (sub)populations, allowing the identification of populations at particularly high risk of extinction, and suggesting effective management strategies.

Keywords: Genetic diversity, Genetic differentiation, Demography, Population size, Epidemiology, Migration, Genetic drift, Inbreeding.