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Characterising SuDS Pond sediments in relation to Water Quality, Biodiversity & Ecosystem Functioning: implications for provision of multiple benefits


Project Description

SUDS ponds are an important part of Blue\Green Infrastructure. They help to alleviate flood risk and provide a number of further benefits, including e.g. recreational and amenity value, biodiversity habitats, and water quality improvements. The proposed project will build upon previous scientific research with the aim to study the ecosystem functioning and services / benefits provided by SuDS ponds and compare them with non-SuDS urban ponds. In particular, previous research investigated differences in macroinvertebrate communities between inflow and outflow points, and linked them to differences in water quality and the performance characteristics of the ponds. However, the role of planktonic organisms, and the details of their involvement in technological functioning of these SUDS components, is still understudied. The proposed project will focus on characterising suspended sediments and understanding their impact on pond ecology, with a particular focus on benthic, periphytonic and planktonic microbiota. The project will also aim to study the provision of multiple benefits, including biodiversity and amenity values.

A considerable proportion of pollutants in aquatic ecosystems is absorbed to sediment particles. Suspended sediments also alter penetration of light, and thus influence the dynamics of primary producers. Hence characterisation of sediments, and in particular of suspended particulate matter, is important for describing patterns of ecosystem dynamics but not fully understood in this context. Therefore, an important part of the project is analysis of water quality, sediments chemistry and particle size distribution. Information will be gathered on the biological community of the ponds and adjacent areas, and a number of ecological surveys will be planned. The planktonic community of the ponds studied will be characterised, in particular by the presence/absence of cyanobacteria, and the abundance of diatoms. The preliminary hypothesis is that the planktonic, benthic and periphytonic community in these ponds is instrumental for water quality improvements, but may be limited both by catchment characteristics physical factors and by nutrients.

For more specific details on this project, including training and placement opportunities, please see the full advertisement at: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/iap2-18-105-characterising-suds-pond-sediments-in-relation-to-water-quality-biodiversity-ecosystem-functioning-implications-for-provision-of-multiple-benefits or contact:

All applicants should meet NERC’s eligibility criteria to be considered for an IAPETUS2 studentship and these are detailed in NERC’s current studentship handbook.

IAPETUS2 is looking for candidates with the following qualities and backgrounds:

- A first or 2:1 undergraduate degree, or have relevant comparable experience;
- Candidates may also hold or be completing a Masters degree in their area of proposed study or a related discipline;
- An outstanding academic pedigree and research potential, such as evidenced through the publication of articles, participation in academic conferences and other similar activities.

Applicants must apply to Heriot-Watt University via the online application form, select PhD Environment and include reference IAP2-18-103. You must provide a current CV, degree certificates and full transcripts, a research proposal in the form of a cover letter, no greater than 2 sides in length, detailing the reasons for applying and why you have selected the project. You must also provide two (or more) references, avoiding any references from any members of the supervisory team for project that they wish to conduct.

The selected applicant will proceed to an interview at the IAPETUS2 Studentships Panel, which will meet on Wednesday 20th February 2019. The studentship will commence in September/October 2019, except in exceptional circumstances.

Funding Notes

IAPETUS2’ postgraduate studentships are tenable for between 3-4 years, depending on the doctoral research project the student is studying and provides a tax-free maintenance grant set at the UK Research Council’s national rate, which in 2019/20 is £14,999 (pending confirmation), payment of tuition fees at the Home/EU rate and access to extensive research support funding.

Part-time award-holders are funded for between six (6) and eight (8) years and receive a maintenance grant at 50% of the full-time rate.

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