Coral reef islands are low-lying (<3 m above mean sea level) accumulations of sediment, produced entirely by organisms living on the surrounding coral reefs and in seagrass beds. They provide numerous key ecosystem services, both ecological and socioeconomic, to some of the world’s poorest countries. However, due to their low-lying nature, they are frequently considered to be among the most vulnerable environments to climate change, particularly to sea level rise.
In order to better predict how reef islands may respond to future environmental change, it is important to understand how they have responded to past environmental changes, including in sea level. Our understanding of past reef island evolution is improving for the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but remains severely limited for the Caribbean. This knowledge gap is particularly pertinent as the Caribbean region has its own unique sea level history, which means lessons learned from other regions are unlikely to apply.
For this PhD project, you will reconstruct the development and evolution of reef islands (i.e. sand cays) in Honduras. You will undertake marine ecological surveys to determine the degree of reef-to-island connectivity. The project will involve both geomorphological and ecological analyses, including of island morphology, core records and marine ecology. You will undertake fieldwork in collaboration with Operation Wallacea (as CASE partner) at their marine site in Honduras.
A keen interest in undertaking fieldwork in tropical marine environments is essential. A good knowledge of geomorphology and/or ecology is desirable.
For more information, please contact Dr Holly East ([email protected]
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.
Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. OP.....) will not be considered.
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.
We have a minimum of 12 (3.5 year) PhD fully funded studentship awards available for October 2020 entry. Each award includes fees (Home / EU), an annual living allowance (for 2019/20 this is £15,009) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, as required).