Climate Change Mitigation in the Isle of Wight Marine Biosphere, Solent


   School of Biological Sciences

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  Dr Ian Hendy  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three-year PhD to commence in October 2024. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Science and Health and will be supervised by Dr Ian Hendy

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for one of a small number of bursaries available. Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive a £1,500 p.a. for project costs/consumables. 

Costs for student visa and immigration health surcharge are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page.    

The work on this project could involve:

  • Using a range of survey techniques to assess the current extent of the Isle of Wight Area of Natural Beauty (IWAONB) UNESCO Biosphere 
  • Undertaking biodiversity assessments to determine nursery and trophic functions, and assessing impacts
  • Trialling restoration of key essential fish habitats
  • The formation of a UNESCO Biosphere management strategy to inform policy

Project description

This exciting project will enable the 600 Km2 marine component of the IWAONB UNESCO Biosphere to understand the current distribution and state of key marine habitats using ecological studies. Biosphere reserves provide conservation solutions and enhance biodiversity through sustainable use. They are important outreach and educational areas and located globally in 130 countries. 

This crucial project will map essential coastal marine vegetated ecosystems, including, saltmarsh, seagrass, and kelp fringing the IoW coast. These ecosystems maintain essential fish habitats and drive coastal fishery biomass and productivity, including shark nurseries.  These ecosystems are essential for mitigating climate change impacts, creating significant below-ground blue-carbon stores, and maintaining the structure and function of ecosystems, to align with SDG 14

Year 1: Using online resources, e.g. The Channel Coastal Observatory, satellite imagery of key coastal habitats will be used to assess historical changes of saltmarsh, seagrass, and kelp. Ground-truthing using drone technology and UV light spectra absorbency to determine accurate surface area present-day cover will be used. Data will be collected using an underwater ROV with sonar technology. Present-day data will be compared with historical surface area estimates. Using regression, these data will determine future predicted losses.

Year 2: Biodiversity field assessments of saltmarsh, seagrass, and kelp, to determine commercial fishery biomass. Community and trophic structure of the associated biodiversity will also be investigated. Data will be collected using Standard Monitoring Units for the Recruitment of Fishes (SMURFs), and Baited Remote Underwater Videos, matched with eDNA sampling and low tide belt transect surveys. 

Year 3: To trial a restoration project identified from year 1, in collaboration with key partners from the IWAONB. This will include a trial seagrass reseeding project, shore height management of saltmarsh, and a kelp reseeding program using a locally obtained sporophyte-rich alginate.  

General admissions criteria

You'll need a good first ecological science degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements

You will need experience of managing several projects simultaneously, therefore project management skills are essential. You will have a deep understanding of coastal ecological processes of saltmarsh, seagrass, and kelp forests, coupled with experience of working directly with at least one of the ecosystems listed. You will also have skills with field survey techniques, with preference towards some of these research areas: (i) benthic fauna (ii) fish (juvenile and adult life stages) (iii) biomass assessments and (iv) restoration. You will also have experience with (i) data analysis (ii) data management and (iii) able to effectively manage your time. Additionally, you will have excellent communication skills, and able to work independently and within a team. 

You will be provided with additional support for GIS. You will receive further support from the AONB UNESCO Biosphere staff, Natural England, and staff from the University of Portsmouth, and Queen Mary University, London.

How to Apply

We encourage you to contact Dr Ian Hendy ([Email Address Removed]) to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code BIOL8710124 when applying. Please note that email applications are not accepted.


Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for one of a small number of bursaries available. Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive a £1,500 p.a. for project costs/consumables.
Costs for student visa and immigration health surcharge are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page.