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Soil biodiversity function in enhancement of tree establishment and growth in urban settings.

   School of Engineering

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  Dr K Butt  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

It is expected the successful applicant will commence January/March 2024.

Project Description:

Within the built environment, there is a growing desire to have the presence of a natural element, to assist with general wellbeing of those who work and live there. However, trees planted in urban settings often suffer from poor growth and survival, partially attributable to poor soil conditions, soil compaction and moisture stress. Soil quality, its carbon and nutrient content and particularly living soil components, which drive the nutrient cycling processes, are likely to be critical aspects of tree survival and growth. These vital factors have been largely overlooked in the urban realm despite supporting evidence from woodland creation.

This project aims to investigate the effects of soil invertebrates (particularly earthworms and microarthropods) in enhancement of tree establishment and growth within the built environment. The role of these soil biotic groups as biological indicators of soil quality will be investigated, including within engineered tree-pit systems - frequently used yet challenging planting sites. This will build on current research into urban tree health and vigour, with baseline physical and chemical data gathered for a range of prominent sites including the Olympic Legacy Park, and Wembley Stadium. The project will benefit from investigations of soil biota as indicators of soil quality in urban systems.

Specific objectives will Investigate:

  • Soil parameters and relations to tree quality indicators for a range of built environmental settings;
  • Role of biota inoculations at improving tree quality;
  • Impact of made-soil quality on biota inoculation.

This project is a collaboration between the School of Natural Sciences at UCLan and Forest Research. The supervisory team will have members from each and encompass expertise across all aspects of the project.

Further information

Informal project related enquiries about the post can be made to Dr Kevin Butt – [Email Address Removed]

For the full details go to:

Applications should be completed on our online application system, selecting the following options:

  • Type of Study – Research Degree (Postgraduate)
  • Course - Master of Philosophy/Doctor of Philosophy
  • Campus – Preston Campus
  • Mode of Study – Full Time

Please quote the Studentship reference number DTC02 on the online application form.

Closing Date: 1st November 2023

Proposed Interview Date: TBC


Architecture, Building & Planning (3) Computer Science (8) Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

Applications are invited for a PhD (via MPhil) studentship within the School of Engineering and Computing, funded through the UCLan Doctoral Training Centre for Industry Collaboration and tenable for up to 3.5 years full time [subject to satisfactory progress]. Both Home and EU/International Applicants may apply but EU/International Applicants will be required to pay the difference in tuition fees between the UK and EU/International fee rates. The studentship will provide successful applicants with an annual stipend in line with UKRI rates (Currently £18,622 per year), subject to satisfactory progress.
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