PhD: The ecological significance of sediment geochemistry and particle-size in freshwater ecosystems

PhD opportunity at the University of Brighton, UK:

Water is a resource that is under growing pressure as the global population rises, and the natural supply, in the form of precipitation, is becoming increasingly variable and uncertain with climate change. It is therefore essential that water resources are managed sustainably in terms of both their quantity and quality. One of the most commonly attributed causes for the impairment of water quality globally is the presence of sediments, ranging from nano-scale particles and colloids to sand-sized sediments. Sediments can have a range of detrimental effects on water resources, from aesthetic issues and higher costs of water treatment, to a decline in the fisheries resource and serious ecological degradation. Ultimately this can lead to a significant decline in the associated freshwater ecosystem services, estimated to have a global value in excess of $1.7 trillion per annum. However at present, there is a poor understanding of the chemical and physical impacts, and the suspended sediment levels that water quality managers should aim to achieve in order to support good ecological status in different environments.

The aim of this studentship is to address this lack of understanding by studying and modelling the characteristics of sediments (total suspend solids, geochemistry and particle-size), in contrasting freshwater ecosystems that are in reference condition (i.e. high-ecological status), and those that are impacted by varying degrees of sediment-related problems. The student will conduct high-resolution monitoring and sampling of sediment concentrations and characteristics, over a period of 24 months, in a range of contrasting river-typologies in high to poor ecological status. Students will be part of the University of Brighton’s Aquatic Research Centre, and will benefit from access to a range of environmental monitoring equipment and state of the art particulate and water analytical facilities.

Application deadline: 8th June 2012

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