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Impact of nuisance algae on coastal ecosystems: finding sustainable management approaches

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  • Full or part time
    Dr R Stillman
    Dr R Herbert
    Dr D Franklin
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Globally, ‘green tides’ and the formation of green macroalgal mats are becoming more common along coasts and estuaries due to increased organic pollution (eutrophication) and the rise in temperature due to climate change. Additionally, the establishment of non-native invasive algal species is more frequent. Individually, and in-combination, these ‘nuisance algae’ have the potential to create significant negative impacts on the invertebrate prey of internationally important bird predators.

However, the impact of nuisance algae on bird predators and ecosystem function is largely unknown. Decline in bird numbers in UK estuaries, potentially associated with algal growth, risks significant infractions of the EU Habitats and Birds Directives, and Water Framework Directive, which require favourable ecological condition to be maintained. Yet, finding sustainable solutions to the management of nuisance algae is extremely challenging to regulators, water companies and other coastal stakeholders.

This project will determine the ecological impact of nuisance algae, using Christchurch Harbour as a case study, but will also test the generality of results more widely. The formation of green algal mats and the establishment of the invasive red alga Gracilaria vermiculophylla is causing considerable concern for the health of the harbour ecosystem.

Under supervision, the student will develop expertise and skills in the design of surveys and experiments in challenging environments (estuaries). The supervisory team have experience of numerous field surveys and close guidance on project management, risk assessment and logistics will be provided to the student. Species identification skills (marine benthic invertebrates, seaweeds and birds) will be developed in addition to an understanding of bird behaviour. These skills will also be extremely valuable for post-doctoral studies and industry. Statistical and data processing techniques will be also developed with the assistance of the supervisory team and other staff. Training with experience of individual–based modelling approaches will be extremely useful tools for graduates.

The successful student may enrol in either September 2019 or January 2020.

How to apply:

Applications are made via our website using the Apply Online button below. If you have an enquiry about this project please contact us via the Email NOW button below, however your application will only be processed once you have submitted an application form as opposed to emailing your CV to us.

The PhD Studentships are open to UK, EU and International students. Candidates for a PhD Studentship should demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 3 years and must demonstrate:

• outstanding academic potential as measured by either a 1st class honours degree or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent Grade Point Average (GPA)
• an IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6.0 in each component) for candidates for whom English is not their first language and this must be evidenced at point of application.

In addition to satisfying minimum entry criteria, BU will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful completion.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Driving licence

Funding Notes

Funded candidates will receive a maintenance grant of £15,000 per year to contribute towards living expenses during the course of your research, as well as a fee waiver for 36 months.

Funded Studentships are open to both UK/EU and International students unless otherwise specified.



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