PhD Studentship - Post-fire Dunefield Ecological Recovery

Loughborough University

Start date: October 1st 2018

Interview date: Week beginning February 12th 2018


Primary supervisor: Dr Matthew Baddock

Secondary supervisor: Prof Joanna Bullard

Intro (standard):

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014)

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Graduate School, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career.

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Project Detail:

Dunefields cover 20% of the world’s drylands and hence are an important and significant component of semi-arid and arid landscapes. Many dunefields in the sub-tropics have a partial vegetation cover that contributes to stabilization of the dune forms. This vegetation can be rapidly removed or damaged by fire or grazing pressure. A positive feedback model for processes leading to post-fire increased dune activity, destabilization and potential dust emissions has been proposed to explain why the effects of fire on dune ecology can persist for decades (Strong et al. 2010), but has not yet been tested. This PhD project will use satellite remote sensing data to identify the timing and extent of vegetation removal and rates of dune vegetation recover in linear dunefields, principally the southwest Kalahari, southern Africa. It will improve understanding of the impact of fire on dunefield activity, dust emissions and ecological succession, including determining long-term impacts on burn sites. An important variable that may also affect both fire impacts and vegetation recover is large-scale climate oscillation. The successful applicant will map and determine the age of fire-footprints and use sequential satellite imgery to determine the rate of vegetation re-establishment and any geomorphological changes. Long-term climate data sets will be used to understand fire occurrence and vegetation recovery rates.

Strong, C.L., Bullard, J.E., Dubois, C., McTainsh, G.H., Baddock, M.C. 2010. Impact of wildfire on interdune ecology and sediments: an example from the Simpson Desert, Australia. Journal of Arid Environments, 74, 1577-1581.

Find out more:

For further information about this project please see the main CENTA website ( or contact Dr Matthew Baddock,

Entry requirements:

The successful student will have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) and/or a relevant Master’s degree in one or more of the following: Geography, Remote Sensing, Geographical Information Systems, Ecology or a related subject.

Funding information:

The studentship is for 3.5 years and is intended to start in October 2018. The studentship provides a tax free stipend of £14,553 per annum (in 2017/18) for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate (£4,195 in 2017/18) and a research training support grant of £8,000. Please note that due to restrictions imposed by the funder only students with a UK/EU fee status will be considered for this position. Further guidance about eligibility is available at RCUK Terms & Conditions.

Contact details:

Name: Dr Matthew Baddock

Email address:

Telephone number: +44 1509 222798

How to apply:

To apply:

  • Complete a CENTA studentship application form in Word format (available from
  • All applications should be made online at Under programme name, select “Geography”. During the online application process, upload the CENTA studentship application form as a supporting document.

Please quote CENTA17-LU6 when completing your online application.

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Midlands of England