PhD Studentship – Engineered solutions for reconnecting fragmented habitats: quantifying multi-species responses for assessments of biodiversity sustainability

Bournemouth University

Project Title – Engineered solutions for reconnecting fragmented habitats: quantifying multi-species responses for assessments of biodiversity sustainability

Funding amount: £17,668 maintenance grant per annum

Lead Supervisor name: Prof.Demetra Andreou

Project description

Habitat connectivity is critical to enable populations of threatened species to access a range of functional habitats, including for reproduction, foraging and over-wintering. However, the anthropogenic alteration of natural systems (e.g. macro-scale river engineering in rivers, including dam and weir construction) has resulted in widespread habitat fragmentation. The net result is populations of species that are already threatened by issues such as climate change and exploitation are driven closer to extirpation through their inability to access their former functional habitats.

 Although solutions to connectivity loss exist, including the removal of the structures that prevent fish movements (e.g. dam removal programmes), this is often not feasible as the structure still has an ongoing use. Instead, reconnection of these fragmented habitats is usually through engineered solutions that facilitate fish movements between fragmented habitats, such as fish passes (or fish ladders). Fish passes facilitate individuals to move across otherwise impassable structures by providing an alternative and easier route around the barrier but do not restore the natural habitat. While these fish passes can be effective, their construction can be expensive and their performance is often not assessed comprehensively and across all appropriate fish species – despite their importance for promoting biodiversity sustainability while maintaining the delivery of societal benefits from the primary structure.

The aim of this PhD is to quantify the efficacy of engineered fish passage solutions that are designed to resolve habitat fragmentation. This will be completed by measuring their use by resident and diadromous fish species using a multimethod approach (including biotelemetry and video technology). This will include assessments of passage within and between species, including evaluating the role of individual behaviours on successful passage. These integrated assessments will enable the population, community and ecosystem responses to engineered reconnection to be more accurately quantified.

What does the funded studentship include?

Funded candidates will receive a maintenance grant of £17,668 per annum (unless otherwise specified), to cover their living expenses and have their fees waived for 36 months. In addition, research costs, including field work and conference attendance, will be met.

Funded Studentships are open to both UK/EU and International students unless otherwise specified.

Eligibility criteria

Candidates for a PhD Studentship should demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 4 years and must demonstrate:

  • Outstanding academic potential as measured normally by either a 1st class honours degree (or equivalent Grade Point Average (GPA) or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent
  • An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent) for candidates for whom English is not their first language and this must be evidenced at point of application.

Additional Eligibility:

Candidates are expected to have some relevant field-based experience and knowledge of the application of acoustic telemetry to assessing animal migrations.

Closing date: The first call for applications will close on 30 June 2023.

For further information on how to apply click the ‘Apply’ button below or email [email protected]

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