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  Anthropogenic activities and their impact on the functional role of Saltmarshes


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  Dr Dinesh Babu Duraibabu, Dr Roisin Nash, Dr Enda Gibney  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD project is part of the Postgraduate Research Training Programme COASTAL CONNECTIVITY, which offers 12 PhD research scholarships to commence in 2024. Each project will include an enterprise placement of minimum 12 weeks duration and a bespoke training package in coastal management and research skills.

Project (Coastal 3): Anthropogenic activities and their impact on the functional role of Saltmarshes

Saltmarshes are sumps for anthropogenic pollutants that lie at the interface between land and sea. They are important habitats particularly for overwintering birds and specialised salt-tolerant plants. While listed under the Habitats Directive, as habitats whose conservation requires SAC designation, the potential for anthropogenic alteration of the marshes will always exist. The inherent resilience to stressors and their capacity to absorb anthropogenic impacts have been strained and will now be further challenged with climate change and expected sea level rise. While the capacity for saltmarshes to adapt to sea level rise will largely be dependent on the possibility for this habitat to extend further into the terrestrial ecosystem saltmarshes must first survive the increasing and cumulative onslaught of contaminants and nutrients entering the systems. 

Exploring the negative anthropogenic activities acting on saltmarsh habitats this project with the aid of mobile platforms will assess and monitor the community to see how they are impacting the health of saltmarshes. Evaluating the cumulative anthropogenic impacts will increase the understanding of how anthropogenic activities are interfering with the natural processes of the marsh and allow for the exploration for mitigation and/or restoration of saltmarshes to inform policy makers and the EU Water Framework Directive.  

Objectives of the research project: 

1. To assess pollutant fluxes through monitoring spatial and temporal changes in the abundance of pollutants in saltmarshes by applying an ecosystem approach to sampling.  

2. To explore anthropogenic pollutants on community structure and function of saltmarshes. 

3. To estimate the impact of extreme weather events on saltmarsh functioning and pollutant recycling. 

4. To Implement AI/ML models to allow for the identification and monitoring of Angiosperms using payload systems within mobile platforms (Drones, ASVs). 


A minimum of 2.1 honours degree (Level 8) in a relevant discipline.

Project Duration:

48 months (PhD)

Preferred Location:

ATU Sligo Campus


Application Form / Terms of Conditions can be obtained on the website:

The closing date for receipt of applications is 5pm, (GMT) Monday 29th April, 2024.

Only selected applicants will be called for an online interview (shortlisting may apply)

Environmental Sciences (13)

Funding Notes

TU RISE is co-financed by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the ERDF Southern, Eastern & Midland Regional Programme 2021- 27 and the Northern & Western Regional Programme 2021-27.
Funding for this Project includes:
• A student stipend (usually tax-exempt) valued at €22,000 per annum
• Annual waivers of postgraduate tuition fee
• Extensive research training programme
• Support for travel, consumables and dissemination expenses


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