PhD Applications and Funding
Scottish Natural Heritage/Scottish Environmental Protection Agency PhD studentship and a UCL IMPACT Award.
We are pleased to offer an exciting PhD opportunity to study Recent responses of freshwater Scottish lochs to changes in nutrient loading and climate.
Supervisors: Dr Helen Bennion, Dr. Carl Sayer and Dr Nadia Solovieva (Department of Geography, UCL), Dr Iain Sime (SNH)
Scotland’s freshwater lochs are under multiple pressures including nutrient enrichment and climate change. The lake sediment record provides a unique archive of ecosystem change and diatoms preserved in sediments are valuable indicators of changing water quality. This project aims to build on an existing study of diatoms in sediment cores from 26 lochs taken in the 1990s (Bennion et al. 2004) by analysing the diatom record in new dated cores collected from a subset of those lochs to: i) assess degree of recovery in the lochs where nutrient loading has been reduced, ii) identify whether the sites deemed to be minimally impacted remain so, iii) evaluate the causes of change for those lochs exhibiting signs of enrichment or trajectories of change not seen previously and determine shifts in wider ecosystem structure and function, and iv) detect any recent climate-driven changes in the ecology of deep, oligotrophic lochs. In addition to diatom analysis, this project will involve analysis of plant macrofossils, Cladocera, algal pigments and, where relevant, 13C and 15N isotopes at selected sites to assess trophic relationships and nutrient sources.
The study will provide assessments of long term trends, degree and rate of ecological change and recovery in Scottish lochs which are vital for ensuring their sound management. Outputs will help to target environmental measures, inform catchment plans and provide a better understanding of the consequences of climate change.
The student will be trained in palaeolimnological techniques, taxonomy and numerical skills. All the necessary facilities will be provided by UCL, with the exception of Cladocera and isotope expertise which will be provided by Dr Tom Davidson, Aarhus University, Denmark and pigment expertise which will be provided by Dr Suzanne McGowan, University of Nottingham, UK. Thus the student will benefit from the close links between three of the leading lake research groups in Europe. The studentship will allow training in natural heritage and resource management issues and will provide the student with a strong foundation in the application of science to water policy as the outputs are of direct relevance to the EU Habitats Directive and EU Water Framework Directive.
Bennion, H., Fluin, J. & Simpson, G. (2004). Assessing eutrophication and reference conditions for Scottish freshwater lochs using sub-fossil diatoms. Journal of Applied Ecology, 41, 124-138.
Requirements and Award
Candidate must hold a first or second class honours degree in an appropriate branch of science and have interests in fresh water ecology and conservation. Funding is exclusively designated for this PhD. Full funding is available only to UK and EU nationals.
How to apply
All applicants must complete the UCL Graduate Application Form. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/apply/apply-now/ucl-graduate-application-form.pdf
Please indicate clearly the project and funding for which you are applying, and give details of your suitability. Please get your referees to email their references directly to Fiona Mannion. The application form should be sent directly to: Fiona Mannion, Graduate Admissions, Department of Geography, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, or E-mailed: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 020 7679 7579.
Enquiries about scientific aspects of the project should be directed to Helen Bennion. Email: h.bennion@ ucl.ac.uk; Tel: 020 7679 0519.
The deadline for applications is Friday 28 March 2014
Please ensure that the standard PhD application form is submitted in advance of these deadlines. Please make sure that your application is COMPLETE before submission as incomplete applications will not be considered.
A UK Bachelor's degree in an appropriate subject, awarded with first or upper second-class Honours, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard from a recognised higher education institute is required. A Master's degree in an appropriate subject is desirable. All applications require the completion and submission of the.
Enquiries can be made to:
Department of Geography
University College London
London WC1E 6BT
Tel: 020 7679 7579/0575
Please note that applications completed online may take some time to reach the department. It is essential that you include full details of your qualifications (full transcripts) and ensure that your chosen referees are available to provide a reference.
Please note that any proposed PhD project is an indicative area of staff interest and may be modified due to changes in resourcing, data availability, methodological issues, staff changes or wider developments within the research field.