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Putting biodiversity back together: Processes controlling the re-assembly of ecosystems

Eligibility: UK/EU students with the required entry requirements

Duration: Full Time - three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 5th November 2018

Interview dates: November 2018

Start date: January 2019

Informal enquiries are essential before application; contact Dr Martin Wilkes to discuss this opportunity.

Introduction

Coventry University has been voted ‘Modern University of the Year’ three times running by The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide. Ranked in the UK’s top 15 (Guardian University Guide), we have a global reputation for high quality teaching and research with impact. Almost two-thirds (61%) of our research was judged ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

The Project

Earth is arguably undergoing the sixth mass extinction event of its history. Because biodiversity determines the presence and magnitude of key ecosystem functions, such as water purification and productivity, species loss can severely impact the health and livelihoods of people. In response to this crisis, ecological restoration has become a multi-billion dollar industry. However, few restoration projects are monitored, and those that are often show no improvement.

Reasons for the failure of ecological restoration schemes continue to be hotly debated. Emerging evidence suggests that spatial processes involving the dispersal capacities of organisms are of crucial importance. These processes may be strong enough to limit improvement in ecological status even if environmental conditions at an individual site have improved after management intervention. However, the search for conclusive evidence is restricted by the labour-intensiveness of traditional biological sampling methods.

This project will apply a novel combination of eDNA and statistical modelling techniques developed by the supervisory team to map and analyse biodiversity patterns over large extents and at high resolutions throughout river networks. The aim is to understand the processes that influence the success or failure of ecological restoration efforts and make robust predictions of management outcomes at regional scales. The student will be largely based with project partner Severn Rivers Trust at their headquarters in the Worcestershire countryside. Data collection will focus on specific sub-catchments within the Severn river basin.

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Benefits

  • The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.
  • All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. 

Entry Requirements

Entry criteria for applicants to PHD 

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years.
  • a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).

The successful candidate will be expected to have:

  • A proven ability to undertake independent study
  • Excellent written and spoken language skills
  • Extensive experience of undertaking fieldwork
  • Sound knowledge of concepts in Ecology and Evolution
  • An understanding of standard statistical techniques
  • Basic-intermediate programming skills, preferably using R (advanced training will be provided during the PhD)
  • A full driving license

Eligibility & Application Procedure

Eligibility:

All UK/EU students are eligible to apply that meet the academic requirements, the eligibility criteria can be found on our making an application page.