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Maximising ecosystem services in urban greenspaces

   Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Research conducted mainly in the natural environment has shown biodiversity to be a key driver of multiple ecosystem functions (i.e. ecosystem multifunctionality) underpinning the provision of ecosystem services and undesirable disservices. Manipulation of biodiversity therefore has considerable potential to significantly improve green infrastructure (GI) i.e. networks of planned semi-natural spaces in urban environments designed and managed to provide ecosystem services. A major gap in knowledge hampering our ability to harness the benefits of biodiversity in urban areas is understanding how attributes particular to GI affect biodiversity-ecosystem multifunctionality (BEM) relationships. Moreover, the mechanisms by which landscape form and biodiversity influence ecosystem services and disservices operate at different scales, and we lack understanding of how these mechanisms function and scale in urban landscapes. A further critical gap in knowledge is how the diversity of urban forms interacts with neighbouring peri-urban and rural forms to affect ecosystem services and disservices. We address these knowledge gaps to understand how biodiversity can be used to enhance ecosystem multifunctionality in urban landscapes at contrasting scales. The PhD project will be aligned to a new UKRI-funded project, and will specifically focus on plant-soil interactions in urban settings. For example, it could explore relationships between biodiversity of soils from different urban contexts with ecosystem multifunctionality, whether the functioning of plant-mycorrhizal symbioses is moderated by environmental and edaphic conditions found in urban landscapes, and ways to maximise the resilience of urban green infrastructure to climate change factors, such as drought. The experiments may use a mix of in situ measurements across towns and cities in the UK and manipulation experiments in the laboratory. The findings will help develop enabling mechanisms to enhance the contribution made by local scale GI interventions to wider landscape scale processes and the resilience of urban ecosystems.

 Application Enquiries

To make an application please do so here - https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/admissions/how-to-apply/ 

Then search and select PhD Environmental Science (academic programme) and PhD Ecology and Evolution (academic plan)

David Johnson -

Funding Notes

This is a PhD project available to self-funded students. The fees are £30,500 for Overseas students and £15,500 to home students in the academic year 2021-22.
The start date is negotiable


O’Riordan R et al. 2021. The ecosystem services of urban soils: A review. Geoderma 395.
Schittko C et al. 2022. Biodiversity maintains soil multifunctionality and soil organic carbon in novel urban ecosystems. Journal of Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13852

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