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PhD Studentship: Landscape change in Northern Norway: impacts of climate, biotic interactions and anthropogenic disturbance

University of Southampton

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Southampton
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 8th November 2018
Closes: 12th January 2019

Proforma for collecting information on specific studentships

Research Group: LDE

Supervisor(s): Mary Edwards, Tony Brown, Inger Alsos

Humans arrived early into arctic Fennoscandia, and their actions have subtly shaped the landscape for thousands of years. At the same time, climate variations and natural biotic processes (such as herbivory, competition, and soil development) have also driven change. Of particular interest is how grazing, particularly of domestic reindeer, and alleopathy (chemically based plant competition) are determining the recent development and current status of northern tundra ecosystems.

To determine how these different drivers of change have interacted over time, and to establish a background against which assess response to current arctic warming, a multi-proxy approach is needed. In this project you will use techniques such as pollen analysis, charcoal analysis and biomarker studies, plus application of models to establish past land-cover changes. The work will be done in collaboration with other researchers based at the University of Tromsø, Norway, who are examining changes in plant and animal taxa via ancient DNA. The study system uses dated lake-sediment cores, and the locations include areas where there are key archaeological finds, sites near the dynamic forest-tundra boundary, and areas that are critical grazing regions. There would be opportunities for fieldwork and to participate in one or more research visits to the University Museum in Tromsø.

Past experience with Quaternary proxy methods would be an advantage, but all methods can be acquired through training at the University of Southampton. Interest in ecological processes and landscape dynamics is important, as is a willingness to carry out laboratory analyses.

Prof Mary Edwards is a palaeoecologist and biogeographer with extensive experience in norther regions; Prof Tony Brown is an expert in Quaternary stratigraphy and environmental archaeology; Prof. Inger Alsos is an expert in the application of ancient DNA techniques to Quaternary sediments. The University of Southampton palaeoenvironmental research group (PLUS) has strong links with the University of Tromsø Museum, and staff currently collaborate on a funded project (Ecogen)

50-60 word summary of Research Group (should be standard within Research Group)

The research student will join Southampton's Landscape Dynamics and Ecology group. Recent investment has provided a landscape modelling computer cluster in a new GeoComputation Suite, and developed a high-resolution geodetic surveying capability (dGPS, Total Stations, Terrestrial Laser Scanners). In addition, the petrographic microscope for till thin section analysis is housed in the Palaeoenvironments Laboratory. Full training in all necessary techniques will be given.

Brief academic requirements section along the lines of:

Candidates must have or expect to gain a first or strong upper second class degree, in an appropriate discipline, not necessarily Geography. Details on how to apply are available from Julie Drewitt, email Informal enquiries may be made to Mary Edwards (email For the latest information on postgraduate opportunities within Geography and Environment.

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