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Conducting energetic and kinematic studies on swimming brown trout to reveal mechanisms underlying physiological limitations to performance in warming rivers with variable flows

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  • Full or part time
    Dr H Shiels
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Globally, aquatic ecosystems face the localized and broad-scale influence of climate change. The 2012 UK Climate Change Risk Assessment predicts that by 2080 the average UK summer temperature could be 1-8 °C warmer and accompanied by more frequent extreme rainfall and drought events. Two obvious problems are expected to occur as a result of these forecasts: changes in water flow and increases in water temperature. This PhD project will combine field, lab and computational approaches to integrate the energetic physiology of the brown trout (Salmo Trutta) with temperature and shade cover in key sites within the 860 square mile Ribble River Catchment in the Northwest of England.

The PhD proposal stems from a partnership between the University of Manchester (UoM) and the Ribble Rivers Trust (RRT) and builds upon current work between institutions. The RRT is a science-led river restoration charity that, together with the Environment Agency (EA), developed an award winning climate change, mitigation and adaptation project called - Keeping Rivers Cool. This project plants trees to create shade to help maintain current water temperatures in anticipation of rises associated with climate change. Under the direction of RRT and UoM the student will learn GIS to manipulate the large high resolution 3D data set of tree shade provided by the EA for the Ribble catchment. The student will identify areas of varying relative shade to test the predictions of the model with respect to water temperature, shade and fish abundance. The student will work together with RRT’s fisheries scientists to conduct robust and cost-effective riverine surveys of sites specified through the computational work. Data loggers will be implanted in keys sites before and after tree planting. These sites will be monitored for fish abundance and the influence of trees. In the laboratory at UoM, the student will conduct energetic and kinematic studies on swimming brown trout to reveal mechanisms underlying physiological limitations to performance in warming rivers with variable flows. The expected outputs of this PhD are to provide a framework that the RRT can utilise to ensure its improvement and restoration projects are effective whilst providing the student with robust field, lab and computing skills in fish environmental physiology.

Funding Notes

This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website. For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website. Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.

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