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Managing peatland natural capital in the Falkland Islands

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 09, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The Falkland Islands are a place of remarkable natural beauty with craggy mountains, windswept moorlands and a dramatic coastline with penguin and sea-lion colonies. The Falklands are the UK’s largest (non-Antarctic) Overseas Territory, but have often been overlooked by UK scientists. We are belatedly realising that a large proportion of the UK’s biodiversity is contained within the Overseas Territories, and that they could have a valuable role in mitigating global climate change.

The focus of this project is the peatlands of the Falkland Islands, which cover around half of the land area, hold the vast majority of biosphere carbon, and are a crucial part of the Islands’ ecosystem. We currently know remarkably little about Falklands peatlands: we don’t know how extensive they are, how much carbon they store, or whether they are still actively sequestering carbon. A particularly important gap is that we don’t know how these peatlands are affected by human activity. Many peatlands are used for sheep grazing, some are burnt to promote plant growth, areas have been cut for fuel, and many are eroding. If we can work out how best to manage these peatlands we can keep
that carbon safely in the ground. This project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the right student to spend time in the Falklands and help answer many of these questions. The project is a four-way collaboration between the Universities of York and Aberdeen, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (in Bangor, Wales), and the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI). SAERI is the Falkland Islands’ only academic institution and home to a small but growing community of
researchers. The student will be based in York but will also spend considerable time in the Falklands, based at SAERI.

This is a special project and we are looking for a special student. You need to be academically excellent with a strong undergraduate and master’s degree in an environmental subject. However, beyond the solely academic skills we are looking for somebody who is prepared for the challenges of conducting fieldwork in a spectacular but demanding environment, working independently,
and living and working in a small community. For the right student this is the opportunity to help answer globally-important research questions while spending time working and studying in a remarkable place which few people get to visit. Interested students are strongly encouraged to contact the first supervisor to discuss the project prior to applying.

Funding Notes

This is a 3.5 year fully-funded studentship part of the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership in Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment (ACCE). The studentship covers: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (around £15,000 per year), (ii) tuition fees at UK/EU rate, (iii) research consumables and training necessary for the project.

Entry requirements: At least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent in any relevant subject that provides the necessary skills, knowledge and experience for the DTP, including environmental, biological, chemical, mathematical, physical and social sciences.

References

Shortlisting: Applicants will be notified if they have been selected for interview in the week commencing on Monday 28 January 2019.

Interviews: Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place in the Department of Biology at the University of York in the week beginning 11 February 2019 (or the following week). As part of the interview process candidates will be asked to give a 5 minute presentation on a research project carried out by them.

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