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Reconfiguring seascapes in the Anthropocene: Assessing how connectivity pathways maintain biodiversity (KNIGHTS_P22ARIES)

University of Plymouth

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Plymouth
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: candidates who meet UKRI's eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship covering fees, stipend (£15,609 p.a. for 2021-22) and research funding.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 18th October 2021
Closes: 12th January 2022
Reference: SOBMS-1022-S1-P4

Supervisory Team 

Dr Antony Knights 

Dr Louise Firth 

Professor David Bilton 

Professor Kerry Howell 

Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide) 

Background  

Anthropogenic activities are changing ecosystems worldwide - manifested as mass extinctions, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. These impacts are driven, in part, by replacement of natural habitats with man-made structures, resulting in lost/reduced coherence of ecological networks as landscapes become increasingly fragmented and reconfigured. Several international policies (e.g. Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD); UN Decade of Action) call for solutions to reverse biodiversity decline and promote sustainable development, but our understanding of how habitat reconfiguration/fragmentation disrupts the dispersive networks that are fundamental to the maintenance and persistence of existing biodiversity/marine communities remains a largely unexplored topic and a NERC research priority. 

Methodology  

This studentship will explore ecological connectivity in marine systems and significantly advance understanding of the role of multi-species dispersal in biodiversity maintenance and functioning across seascapes. Expected outcomes include a better theoretical understanding of the drivers of change in biodiversity and community structure, in turn informing applied conservation practices. To address this challenge, the student will draw on remote-sensed data (e.g. habitat mapping), have the opportunity to undertake field surveys to describe the distribution of contemporary marine communities, and develop highly sought-after numerical/analytical skills in ecological/hydrodynamic modelling.  

Training  

Based in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences @ University of Plymouth (worldwide #1 in Sustainable Development Goal 14 'Life Below Water'; Times Higher Impact Rankings 2021), you'll join an established and vibrant research group of undergraduate and postgraduate students associated with the supervisors, and a wider welcoming community of staff and students. During the project, you will build independence and expertise through research leadership including project management and scientific communication (i.e. publications, conference presentations) and receive project-specific bespoke training in field sampling, marine taxonomy, numerical methods, experimental design/statistics, ecological/hydrodynamic modelling from all of the supervisory team, the host (UoP) and collaborative (Met Office) institutions, and wider training from the ARIES DTP training schemes.  

Person specification  

Degree in marine biology/ecology, oceanography or related discipline. Desirable skills include numeracy, programming, statistics (e.g. R/Matlab). 

Funding Notes 

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2022. 
Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship covering fees, stipend (£15,609 p.a. for 2021-22) and research funding. International applicants (EU and non-EU) are eligible for fully-funded UKRI studentships. 
ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and £2,500 for external training, travel and conferences. 
ARIES is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion. Academic qualifications are considered alongside non-academic experience. Our recruitment process considers potential with the same weighting as past experience. 
 
For information and full eligibility visit  https://www.aries-dtp.ac.uk/ 

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