NERC GW4+ DTP PhD studentship Dynamic interactions between life and its landscape: mining and biodiversity in SW England

University of Exeter - College of Life and Environmental Science

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP). At least 4 fully-funded studentships that encompass the breadth of earth and environmental sciences are being offered to start in September 2017 at Exeter. The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,296 per annum for 2016-2017, research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.

Given an often bewildering array of cultural and economic processes, can we consider human activities as a predictable land-forming process? This PhD will take a novel highly-interdisciplinary approach (ecology, geomorphology and remote sensing) to this issue by considering the scale (time and space) of interaction between mining, physical process (e.g. soil-creep) and biodiversity in Dartmoor where the imprint of mining during the past 500 yrs is extensive, well documented and largely undisturbed. This project seeks to understand how such human activities are influenced by local and national economic drivers and in turn interact with local geomorphology and a diverse biology to create the landscapes in which we live. Specifically this project asks to what degree does mining activity driven by economics and cultural imperatives, spanning the past 500 years, impart a micro-topographic ‘fingerprint’ on a landscape and over what spatial-temporal scales has biodiversity responded and interacted with these changes? You will use a drone to capture aerial imagery and a GIS system to analyse both topographic and 3D vegetation structure at selected field sites in Dartmoor while also developing an extensive GIS database of the entire SW region of England.

The successful applicant will be familiar with Matlab or R or a GIS system (e.g. Arcgis or QGIS). You will gain a nationally accredited CAA ‘licence’ to conduct drone surveys. This project will be jointly supervised by Dr. Liam Reinhardt based at the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus, Cornwall and Dr. Michael Ellis at the British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 8 January 2017.

Please see for full details on how to apply.

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South West England