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Trade-Offs and Solutions in Balancing the Natural Capital Value of Artificial and Heavily Modified Water Bodies in Scotland

Project Description

Artificial and heavily-modified (HM) water bodies are a key element of the national and global surface water resource and their importance is likely to increase in the future. It is therefore critical to understand the natural capital benefits (ranging from biodiversity to regulatory and cultural benefits) that such water-bodies currently or could bring and the risks to these. This project focuses on quantifying these benefits and how they are perceived, exploring conflicts in optimizing natural capital relative to the primary function and other socioeconomic values of artificial/HM water bodies, and identifying opportunities for securing and enhancing natural capital.

In this project we will (i) build a biodiversity inventory of a cross section of contrasting artificial/HM and paired natural standing water bodies in Scotland using data on plants, fish, birds and invasive species (ii) undertake an expert-based assessment of delivery of non-ecological benefits in focal water bodies based on operator and user surveys; (iii) identify which features of operation or design, or local context achieve the best balance between biodiversity and non-ecological benefits; and (iv) assess risks or opportunities for natural capital assets from changing demand, external changes at a catchment level and from biological invasions.

For informal enquiries please contact Nigel Willby via email or phone: 01786 467805

Funding Notes

The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme is an open competition for PhD Scholars to undertake approved projects, hosted within Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. This project will be hosted at the University of Stirling.
Full funding is available from the Scottish Government (to host institutions via the Scottish Funding Council). The funding available will be in line with the UKRI doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees.
Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent). Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in February 2020.

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