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Eel Anguilla anguilla migration, barriers and loss of ecosystem services: the case of the River Parrett catchment, Somerset Levels.

Project Description

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014). In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed.

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Project Detail

The European eel Anguilla anguilla is a critically endangered catadromous fish species with a poorly understood lifecycle. Newly hatched larvae (leptocephali) are transported on ocean currents from the Sargasso Sea to intertidal areas of Europe. On arrival in shallow coastal habitats, eels are washed into the mouths of rivers before continuing their journeys upstream. As elvers between 7 and 8 cm in length, fish search for nursery habitats, often located significant distances inland. It is within these nursery habitats the eels remain and reach maturity, before undertaking their seaward journey back to the Sargasso to spawn.

Conservation efforts are hampered by poor understanding of how eel movements and distributions within inland systems are affected by different types of in-river structure and eels’ ability to negotiate these barriers when moving in an upstream or downstream direction. Furthermore, knowledge of eel immigration and migration which define populations within catchments, remains limited, and is largely based on modelling not empirical data collection. This PhD therefore aims to improve our ability to conserve and manage inland UK eel populations by developing a comprehensive understanding of their distributions and movements, and how these are influenced by anthropogenic activities in the River Parrett, Somerset Levels, UK.

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For further information, please see the main CENTA website (

Entry requirements

Applicants will need to hold, or expect to gain, at least a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in Geography, Biology, Earth Science or Environmental Science. A Master’s degree and/or experience in a related area associated with the research will be an advantage.

Contact details

Name: Prof Stephen Rice
Email address:
Telephone number: +44 (0)1509 222748

Name: Prof Paul Wood
Email address:
Telephone number: +44 (0)1509 223012

Name: Dr Andrew Pledger
Email address:

How to apply

To apply:
1. Complete a CENTA studentship application form in Word format (available from or
2. All applications should also be made online at Under programme name, select “Geography and Environment”. During the online application, upload the CENTA studentship application form as a supporting document.

Please quote CENTA18-LU6 when completing your application.

Funding Notes

The studentship is for 3.5 years and is intended to start in October 2019. The studentship provides a tax free stipend of £14,777 per annum for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and a research training support grant of £8,000.

Please note that due to restrictions imposed by the funder only students with a UK/EU fee status will be considered for this position.

Further guidance about eligibility is available at UKRI Terms and Conditions.

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