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Using marine historical ecology approaches to understand past ecosystem responses across major cultural transitions - PhD (Funded)

University of Exeter - Biosciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Home or International tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,285 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.
Hours: Full Time, Part Time
Placed On: 22nd September 2021
Closes: 1st November 2021
Reference: 4162

Academic Supervisors

Dr Ruth Thurstan, University of Exeter

Professor Callum Roberts, University of Exeter 

Project Description

We are looking for a student with a strong interest and experience in the collation and analysis of written and material historical sources for understanding historical dynamics in coastal marine ecosystems, and analysing how changes to these systems responded to, or potentially drove, major cultural transitions in human history.

The SEACHANGE project will reconstruct marine ecosystem baselines and quantify the impact of important cultural transitions on marine ecosystems. You will work alongside a team of academic staff, postdoctoral researchers and PhD students who will combine a series of well-established and emerging techniques to answer research questions on the impact of anthropogenic cultural transitions on marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The wider team will examine archaeological, paleoenvironmental, and ecosystem data from cultural transitions across North West Europe, Iceland, and Australia spanning the last few centuries to several thousand years. You will form a part of this team, focusing upon written and material collections documenting change in coastal and marine ecosystems over the last few hundred years, with an initial focus upon the North Sea region and with the opportunity to expand your studies to other sites in line with SEACHANGE objectives.

Within SEACHANGE you will be working alongside experts and students from the UK, Europe, Australia and beyond, with opportunities to travel to develop these collaborations. We anticipate that you will learn in a hands on way about the techniques other areas of the project will be applying, while at sea. You will be expected to present your findings at international workshops and conferences, and publish your discoveries in scientific journals.

This PhD position will report to Dr Ruth Thurstan and Professor Callum Roberts and will be responsible for reconstructing past marine functioning and biodiversity in key sites across the coasts of the UK and wider regions, using a wide variety of historical documentary and material sources. Ideally, you will have demonstrated skills or a good level of awareness of the historical ecology literature, historical source interrogation and a strong interest in quantitative data analysis, data-poor and mixed methods approaches (quantitative and qualitative) to ecology and biodiversity datasets.

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