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PhD Studentship: Regenerating Freshwater Ecosystems: Chalk Stream Restoration in the UK

University of Southampton

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Southampton
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £18,622 tax-free per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 2nd November 2023
Closes: 31st March 2024
 

Supervisory Team: Paul Kemp, Andrew Vowles 

Project description

Chalk streams have been modified by humans for millennia for agriculture, navigation, flood risk mitigation, and hydropower. Compared to other river systems they have received relatively limited attention. Today, efforts to restore rivers to a more natural condition are widespread for the purpose of enhancing ecological condition, fisheries, and to reduce flood risk through natural flood management strategies. Nevertheless, there is often a lack of sufficient monitoring to quantify the effectiveness of such approaches, and where there has, results are often variable. This collaborative project led by the University of Southampton in partnership with The Piscatorial Society, Southern Water, and Wessex Rivers Trust will adopt an innovative approach to monitor a unique river and wetland restoration and regeneration project on the River Anton, Hampshire. The project will quantify the physical, chemical and ecological response to restoration actions taken by achieving the following objectives: 

  1. Physical habitat quantification: depth, width, bathymetry, hydrodynamics, sediments, and woody material of the pre-existing channel will be mapped prior to and after the restoration activities and compared with an unrestored local control site exhibiting similar pre-restoration characteristics. Appropriate technical methods will be used including bathymetric and hydrodynamic measurements and GIS. 
  2. Chemical habitat quantification: For the same locations, chemical parameters including temperature, dissolved oxygen, nutrients, and turbidity will be monitored using appropriate sensor technology.  
  3. Ecological response to habitat modification: Ecological response for macrophytes, macroinvertebrates, and fish will be monitored using a range of technique ranging from simple quadrat surveys and kick sampling to detailed information on fish abundance and diversity and movement using electric fishing and appropriate telemetry techniques. 

Working as part of an interdisciplinary team of biologists and engineers the successful applicant will conduct a field study to quantify the effectiveness of the restoration approaches adopted at the study site. They will develop skills in field study design, kick sampling, arc-boat surveys, electric fishing, fish telemetry, statistical analysis (e.g R), GIS and technical writing. We are looking for a dedicated person with a background in environmental science related subjects (e.g. geography, ecology, biology, environmental science) and an interest in interdisciplinary work in collaboration with engineers to solve challenges related to freshwater ecosystem restoration. The successful candidate will have a first class or high upper second class undergraduate degree in an appropriate discipline. A merit or distinction class mark at Masters level would also be advantageous. As the project will be field based the successful candidate would also be expected to have a full driving licence. 

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent). 

Closing Date: 31 March 2024. 

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £18,622 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Apply online: Search for a Postgraduate Programme of Study (soton.ac.uk). Select programme type (Research), 2024/25, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD Engineering & Environment (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Paul Kemp 

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts/Certificates to date 

For further information please contact: feps-pgr-apply@soton.ac.uk

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