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Minimising adverse effects of conservation: Ecological consequences of restoration of salmon carcasses to upland streams (Ref IAP2-18-31)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 18, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Salmon populations are declining and in need of active conservation measures, but how is their freshwater habitat best managed to maximise their survival? The juveniles live in uplands streams that would previously have contained many adult salmon that would have died after spawning, so releasing nutrients into an otherwise nutrient-poor environment. So is it possible to boost salmon productivity by adding fertilisers to replace the nutrients previously supplied by the adult carcasses? And if so, does this cause problems of eutrophication further downstream, where nutrient levels are naturally (and unnaturally) higher? This multidisciplinary PhD project will focus on these unresolved questions of the impact of nutrients on upland stream communities, in the context of a current conservation debate. In so doing it will provide the scientific data essential for conservation policy makers who must manage an ecosystem so as to conserve a threatened species without causing unintended ecological problems elsewhere. It will combine fieldwork in the beautiful highlands of Scotland with laboratory analyses, ecological theory with large scale field experiments, and practical conservation management with development of policy.

The project will examine all levels of the food web from algae to predatory fish and will be interdisciplinary, linking hydrology, nutrient pathways, primary production, food web structure, population dynamics, behavioural ecology, conservation, fisheries policy and catchment management. It will have important consequences for conservation, fisheries and ecosystem management.
Neil Metcalfe was recently recognised as a Highly Cited Researcher for 2018 by the Web of Science for his ‘exceptional research performance’ ( The student will join him in the Fish Biology Group, a vibrant group of around 25 fish ecologists at the University of Glasgow. Fieldwork will be conducted alongside fisheries biologists of the Cromarty Firth Fishery Trust. The project offers a broad interdisciplinary training in both concepts (community ecology, entomology, fisheries biology and management, hydrology, nutrient cycling, conservation) and practical skills (electrofishing and bugging, field surveying, invertebrate identification, GIS, statistics, policy development, catchment management, practical conservation). This will make the student eminently employable across a broad range of fields ranging from academia to environmental policy and practical conservation.

For more details see:



All applicants must meet NERC’s eligibility criteria to be considered for an IAPETUS2 studentship, detailed in NERC’s current studentship handbook.

IAPETUS2 is only able to consider applications from Home/European Union candidates. Where a candidate from another EU country has not been resident in the UK for 3 years or more prior to the commencement of their studies with IAPETUS, they will only be eligible for a fees-only studentship.

Candidates should have the following qualities and backgrounds:

- A First Class or Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree (or equivalent); in addition, candidates may also hold or be completing a Masters degree;
- An outstanding academic pedigree and research potential, such as evidenced through the publication of articles, participation in academic conferences and other similar activities.

Start Date: Late September 2019

Application Process

Apply to the University of Glasgow College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graduate School via the postgraduate student applications system.
Deadline: Friday 18th January 2019 at 4 pm (GMT).

In the application, please specify clearly that they wish to be considered for IAPETUS2 project IAP2-18-31.

Applications should include:
a) Current CV.
b) Cover letter detailing reasons for applying for this project.
c) Contact details (including email addresses) for two (or more) academic referees
d) Full transcripts of previous qualifications obtained to date.

The successful applicant will proceed to an interview at the IAPETUS2 Studentships Panel on Wednesday 20th February 2019.

Informal inquiries in advance to Neil Metcalfe are encouraged.

Funding Notes

This project is one of those offered by the IAPETUS2 Doctoral Training Programme, funded by NERC. IAPETUS2 postgraduate studentships are tenable for between 3 and 4 years, depending on the doctoral research project the student is studying. They provide the following package of financial support:

A tax-free maintenance grant set at the UK Research Council’s national rate, which in 2019/20 is £14,999 (pending confirmation).
Full payment of tuition fees at the Home/EU rate.

Access to extensive research support funding.

Part-time award-holders are funded for 6-8 years and receive a maintenance grant at 50% of the full-time rate.

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