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The responses of rare anadromous fish to river reconnection: using fish movement behaviour to measure population recovery

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, January 06, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Habitat fragmentation is a major source of biodiversity loss in freshwaters, with rivers around the world fragmented by weirs and dams that create impoundments. Restoring longitudinal connectivity by weir modification, including the installation of fish passes, is increasingly seen as a solution to the negative consequences for migratory species of river habitat fragmentation. However, there have been few attempts to quantify its ability to restore populations of non-salmonid migratory fishes of high conservation importance, despite many of these species facing unprecedented population declines. Since 2018, the ‘Unlocking the Severn’ project, a collaborative partnership between the Canal & River Trust, the Severn Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and Natural England, has been re-connecting European shads (Alosa spp.) with over 250-km of lost habitat in the River Severn catchment using weir modifications and engineered fish passes.

The aim of this interdisciplinary studentship (with external supervision provided from Bournemouth University (Professor Rob Britton)) is to quantify the migration response of shad to river reconnection by measuring and testing their movement behaviour before and after river reconnection. The studentship will test the prediction that the range of migrating shad will expand significantly as catchment-wide human impacts on longitudinal connectivity are remediated. The research will utilise a combination of field techniques for measuring the temporal and spatial spawning activities of the shad population, but with a strong emphasis on telemetry techniques (e.g. acoustic and passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags). There is also potential to expand previous work into population genetics, environmental DNA and the spatio-temporal distribution of spawning. The results will provide powerful insights into how species of high conservation importance respond to anthropogenic river restoration. The collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of the project means that the student will become experienced in a wide range of field and laboratory skills, while developing strong links to industry.

Funding Notes

Eligible for funding under the NERC Panorama DTP (stipend and UK/EU fees for 3.5 years)

1) Contact the supervisor of your chosen project to register your interest. Please note that you can only apply for 1 project within the DTP.

2) Apply online - View Website:
View Website

The programme code is ‘NERC PANORAMA DTP’. Section 10 request information about the research area - you should input the title of the project that you wish to be considered for and the supervisors’ names.

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