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Early Stage Researcher (PhD Student) position in ecology and ecotoxicology: Ecosystem Services and Risk Assessment

  • Full or part time
    Prof P Warren
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, February 28, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Understanding the potentially negative impacts of chemicals on ecosystems is essential to managing them sustainably. In particular, we need to understand the effects of chemicals on the direct and indirect contributions that ecosystems make to human well-being (i.e. ecosystem services). To gain this understanding we need to move from simplistic approaches currently used in environmental risk assessment to more mechanistic and ecologically relevant understanding and approaches. A recent horizon-scanning project identified priority research questions for moving towards sustainable environmental quality, which included: How do sublethal effects alter individual fitness and propagate to the population and community levels? Biodiversity and ecosystem services: What are we trying to protect, where, when, why and how? (van den Brink et al 2018, Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 37, 2281-2295).

The ESR13 position is based in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield (UK) and are part of PRORISK (, a European Training Network funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. The PRORISK consortium comprises of 18 universities, research institutions, enterprises and partner organisations in 9 European countries and Canada creating a novel platform for training a network of ESRs in the field of advanced Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA). The ESRs within PRORISK will gain synthetic skills allowing them to develop and implement innovative ERA concepts and tools to link the effects of chemicals at different levels of biological organization to ecosystem services and to determine the socio-economic values of related environmental impacts.

This PhD project will undertake a systematic review of the applicability of current ecotoxicological methods for assessing the risk of chemicals and other stressors to ecosystem service delivery. It will explore the potential use of novel empirical and modelling approaches from ecology and ecotoxicology to address the limitations of current approaches. It will apply novel and current approaches to evaluate the risk of case study chemicals to ecosystem service delivery. The results from this project will contribute to the development of ecological production functions to translate effects measured on ecosystem service providers to ecosystem service delivery and to the development of a framework integrating risk assessment, ecosystem services and socio-economic information to inform management decisions. The project will involve international collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark on ecotoxicological damage modelling and the Environmental Institute in Slovakia on field methods and exposure assessment. The project will be supervised by Professor Philip Warren and Professor Lorraine Maltby.

Funding Notes

Please see the Euraxess website for full eligibility and funding details: View Website

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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