The University of Sheffield
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

Research groupings

The research activities in Animal and Plant Sciences fall into three broad themes, represented by the three research groupings below. However, whilst these themes are particular strengths of the Dept, there is a great deal of crossover and collaboration between researchers from different groupings, and it is partly this interaction that brings fresh ideas and insights, and the ability to tackle novel research problems. We also have many collaborations with other Departments across the University, including Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Civil and Structural Engineering, Geography, Mathematics, and Sociological Studies.

Ecology research image

Ecology and environment

The work of this group is at the forefront of addressing some of the key environmental challenges facing humankind at the present time. These include ensuring provision of the ecosystem goods and services that the growing human population requires; maintaining biodiversity in the face of global environmental change and controlling the spread both of established and emerging diseases. We utilise a wide diversity of research approaches, including mathematical modelling, controlled environment and field experiments, and analysis of long-term data sets and palaeontological collections. The group works nationally and internationally with a wide diversity of stakeholders, such as farmers, conservation agencies, and government departments. Our study systems are varied including birds, mammals, insects, plants and microbes, in terrestrial, freshwater and marine systems.
Evolution and behaviour research image

Evolution and behaviour

The focus of this research group is on the evolutionary, genetic and functional bases of behaviour, adaptation and speciation. Research topics include sexual selection and sexual conflict, ecological immunity, cooperative behaviour, evolutionary genomics of adaptation and evolutionary developmental biology. Study systems range from humans, birds and fish to insects and snails. The group hosts the Sheffield node of the NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility.
Plant and microbial biol research image

Plant and microbial biology

Our research covers a broad spectrum of topics on plant and microbial biology covering levels of organisation from the molecule, through the whole organism, to ecosystem and global-scale events. We have particular strengths in the areas of photosynthesis, plant-mycorrhiza and plant parasite interactions, the effects of climate and atmospheric change on plants, and how plants influence global change. Advanced molecular techniques are central to the approaches taken to tackle the wide range of problems investigated, including molecular genetics, metabolomics, fluorescent imaging, gas exchange analysis and carbon isotope analysis. Our research is providing tools to improve food security at a national and international level and provides insight into how past, present and future climactic scenarios impact on plants and, thus, the environment upon which life depends.