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Spawning habitat characteristics of lithophilic fish – using experimental approaches to inform river restoration

Project Description

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014). In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed.
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Project Detail

Degradation of riverine habitats is amongst the most common forms of freshwater degradation, with deterioration in spawning substrate quality associated with global declines in freshwater biodiversity. Despite this, knowledge regarding the environmental tolerances of many species, particularly during their early development, remains limited. This is particularly true for lithophilic fishes and whilst a body of literature on the influence of fine sediment content (“fines”) on the spawning success of some salmonid fishes exists, knowledge of the effects of fines on the spawning of other, typically non-salmonid species, remains limited. Thus, without better understanding of the tolerances of fish eggs and larvae to spawning substrate characteristics, we do not know whether in-situ habitats are conducive to successful reproduction. This also means we do not currently have any readily quantifiable or transferable method of gauging the success (or failure) of river restoration activities in relation to species-specific thresholds.

This PhD therefore aims to quantify the environmental tolerances of some poorly studied yet ecologically, recreationally and economically important freshwater fishes. Further, nest and spawning habitat characteristics and levels of natural recruitment of target species will be assessed in-situ. The project will also investigate how degraded habitats might be improved to increase reproductive success.

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For further information on this project, please see the main CENTA website (

Entry requirements

Applicants will normally need to hold, or expect to gain, at least a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in Geography, Biology, Earth Science or Environmental Science. A Master’s degree and/or experience in a related area associated with the research will be an advantage.
Funding information:

Contact details

Name: Prof Paul Wood
Email address:
Telephone number: +44 (0)1509 223012

Name: Dr David Ryves
Email address:
Telephone number: +44 (0)1509 228192

Name: Dr Andrew Pledger
Email address:

How to apply

To apply:
1. Complete a CENTA studentship application form in Word format (available from or
2. All applications should also be made online at Under programme name, select “Geography and Environment”. During the online application process, upload the CENTA studentship application form as a supporting document.

Please quote CENTA18-LU5 when completing your online application.

Funding Notes

The studentship is for 3.5 years and is intended to start in October 2019. The studentship provides a tax free stipend of £14,777 per annum (in 2018/19) for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and a research training support grant of £8,000. Please note that due to restrictions imposed by the funder only students with a UK/EU fee status will be considered for this position. Further guidance about eligibility is available at UKRI Terms and Conditions.

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