Investigating ecosystem services delivery and correlation with results based scoring assessments in freshwater pearl mussel catchments
Applications are invited for an MSc/PhD position at Institute of Technology, Sligo. The MSc/PhD is in partnership with the Freshwater Pearl Mussel Project (www.pearlmusselproject.ie). The Freshwater Pearl Mussel Project is a European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture Productivity and Sustainability (EIP AGRI) which aims to ensure long term coexistence of farming and freshwater pearl mussel in eight priority catchment areas in the west of Ireland. The project works as a practical partnership with a results-based approach to farming aimed at delivering biodiversity, ecosystem services and community engagement. The MSc/PhD will be centered on the farmland enrolled in the Freshwater Pearl Mussel project, primarily in the Glaskeelan catchment, Co. Donegal and the Bundorragha, Dawros and Owenriff catchments, Co. Mayo. The marginal farmland is of high nature value, capable of supporting low intensity agricultural production and in addition, high levels of biodiversity. The balance between the ecosystem service provision is finely nuanced, and alterations towards intensification, extensification or in some cases, abandonment, can potentially impact on quality of provision. This proposed study will build upon existing knowledge of catchment level approaches for the conservation of freshwater pearl mussel and will develop new and practical measures for assessing land use optimisation in respect of conservation outcomes. The proposed objectives of the PhD are:
• Quantify and map the ecosystem service provision from farmed catchment areas which support the top Freshwater Pearl Mussel populations through a map-based assessment using direct and proxy data from available national datasets and the Pearl Mussel Project.
• Assess and evaluate, using both desk-based and field based surveys, catchment level spatial overlap, synergies and trade-offs in ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation.
• Results-based agri-environment measures testing and refinement of scorecards for multiple ecosystem service provision.
Bursaries have two elements:
a.Maintenance grant €13,000 p.a.
b.Tuition fees (currently €819 p.a.) will be paid by the Institute for all holders of student bursaries. Students are liable for their registration fee. The registration fee for 2019-2020 8 is €3,000 p.a. This will be deducted from maintenance grant, with the balance - €10k paid directly to the awardee’s account, monthly. Annual Award: €13,819
A further allocation for consumables may be made, on a case-by-case basis, up to €2k p/a for desk-based projects and €4k p/a for laboratory/field based projects, available for drawdown during the bursary period, but no later.