Tropical lake ecosystems in the Anthropocene: quantifying recent human impacts on aquatic biodiversity and biogeochemical cycling

Loughborough University - Department of Geography

Start date: October 1st 2017

Interview date: Week beginning February 13th 2017

Primary supervisor: Dr David Ryves

Secondary supervisor: Prof John Anderson

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship funded by the NERC CENTA Doctoral Training Partnership to start in October 2017. The project will be based in the Department of Geography at Loughborough University.

Project Detail:
Tropical lakes and their catchments provide vital ecosystem services to some of Earth’s fastest growing and most vulnerable human populations, but the provision of fundamental ecological and life-supporting services is under threat due to the impact of human activities acting at the landscape-scale in the current Anthropocene. Lakes are not just recognised as regional centres of biodiversity but also as hotspots of biogeochemical dynamics (e.g. for carbon, silicon, phosphorus) within their landscapes, especially small lakes, which have the highest rates of nutrient cycling. Anticipating how these ecosystems change over space and time is crucial to understanding the future resilience of these critical systems at a time when anthropogenic impacts increasingly drive global environmental change. Very little work has been carried out on productive tropical lakes, which are often undergoing rapid catchment and environmental change, with largely unknown impacts on these key aspects of ecosystem function.

This PhD will address this gap, in the lake-rich region of equatorial western Uganda, where there are ~100 crater lakes in 4 lake districts varying from shallow and saline, to deep and fresh, together comprising one of the world’s most biologically valuable ecoregions and acting as a natural aquatic laboratory. This PhD project combines contemporary and palaeolimnology across a suite of contrasting crater lakes in western Uganda with the aim of characterising environmental and ecological change over the recent past, to link changes in lake functioning as hotspots of both biodiversity and biogeochemistry (e.g. C and Si burial) in the last ~100-150 years.

Find out more:
General information about the Department of Geography can be found at and for more information about the project, see the CENTA website or contact Dr David Ryves (

Entry requirements:
Applicants will normally need to hold, or expect to gain, at least a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in Geography, Earth Science or Environmental Science.  A Master’s degree and/or experience in a related area associated with the research will be an advantage.

Funding information:
The studentship is for 3.5 years, which is intended to start October 2017. It provides a tax-free stipend of £14,296 per annum (2016/17 rate) for the duration plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and a research training support grant of £8,000.  Due to funding restrictions, only students with UK/EU fee status will be considered for this opportunity. For further information on studentship eligibility please see RCUK Terms & Conditions.

Contact details:
Dr David Ryves,, +44 (0)1509 228192

How to apply:

Please quote CENTA-LU7 when completing your online application.

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Midlands of England