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Assessing the impact of mangrove loss on marine biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services in the coastal zone of Ghana

School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society

About the Project

Mangroves are marine vascular plants that are found in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. They are hotspots of ecosystem services including trapping carbon, providing nursery grounds to coastal fish, and acting as a buffer to storms and tsunamis. Mangroves are, however, under threat and are being lost at an alarming rate around the world to make way for aquaculture and for use in construction. Along the coastline of Ghana, a number of mangrove forests have been removed yet the impact of mangrove loss on the surrounding ecosystem has not been investigated.

This PhD project will focus on quantifying seafloor biodiversity, trophic ecology and ecosystem function in mangrove forests and deforested habitats along the coastline of Ghana. The student will gain knowledge on a variety of methodologies (e.g., stable isotopes to infer food web structure, isotope tracer experiments to document ecosystem function). The PhD student will be based in the Deep-Sea Ecology and Biogeochemistry research group at the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science – a new pioneering global research centre set up between Heriot-Watt University and the British Geological Survey (BGS). The studentship will be a part of a major ocean research project called the One Ocean Hub funded through UKRI. The student will be required to attend research expeditions to Ghana to collect samples in coastal mangrove swamps, undertake periodic research visits to Ghana and southern England to work with partners at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana and at CEFAS, as well as attend national and international research conferences and project meetings.

To be eligible, applicants should have a first-class honours degree or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Applicants must be highly motivated with a marine biology, ecology or biogeochemistry background. Applicants with an interest in advanced isotope geochemistry, and mathematical modelling are particularly encouraged to apply. Scholarships will be awarded by competitive merit, taking into account the academic ability of the applicant.

To apply you must complete our online application form and select PhD Environment and include the full project title, reference number and supervisor on your application form. Ensure that all fields marked as ‘required’ are complete. You must complete the section marked project proposal and upload a supporting statement documenting your reasons for applying to this particular PhD project, and why you are an ideal candidate for the position. You will also need to provide a CV, a copy of your degree certificate and relevant transcripts. You will be asked to enter details of an academic referee. Until your nominated referee has uploaded their statement, your application will not be marked as complete and will not be considered by the review panel. You must also provide proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue or if you have not already studied for a degree that was taught in English). We require an IELTS certificate showing an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component scoring less than 6.0 or a TOEFL certificate with a minimum score of 90 points.

Funding Notes

This is a full scholarship, which will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of £15,285 for the 36-month duration of the project. Full funding is available to UK, EU and international students. Applicants must be available to start the course of study in January 2021.

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