3 year Phd position – Norwegian Institute for Water Research

Phd opportunities

Euro-FLOW: a European training and research network for environmental FLOW management in river basins. A MARIE SKŁODOWSKA-CURIE ACTIONS Innovative Training Network (ITN) funded under H2020-MSCA-ITN-2017

Project Description, ESR4:

“Linking environmental flows to changes in river ecosystem structure and functioning mediated by water chemistry and biotic interactions”

Host institute: Norwegian Institute for Water Research, NO (NIVA)

Project Description:
Norway produces approximately half of Europe’s hydropower generated electricity and 70 % of Norway’s
rivers have consequently changed hydrological regimes. While direct effects on biota, in particular salmonids,
are well documented, much less is known of how changed hydrological regimes indirectly influence biotic
interactions and ecosystem functioning. Furthermore, water released from hydropower reservoirs will often
differ in temperature regimes, gas saturation and water chemistry compared to unimpacted rivers. This,
together with changes in sediment transport and geomorphic process rates, that are inherent features of
changes to natural flow conditions, will significantly alter the environmental conditions at all levels of
biological organization, and it has profound implications for ecosystem properties. In particular, we are
interested in how this combined impact of hydropower influences interaction among autotrophic
components in river ecosystems and the cascading effects further up in the food web. We are furthermore
interested in quantifying changes in ecosystem functioning such as metabolic balance, primary and
secondary production and rates of decomposition, and to link these changes to alterations in flow,
temperature, geomorphological processes, gas saturation and water chemistry. We expect to translate
changes in ecosystem functioning to the provision of key ecosystem services such as a sustainable recreative
fishing that is a key source of rural income in many parts of Norway. We envisage a combination of using
existing data sets, new field surveys and experiments to disentangle these complex abiotic and biotic
interactions in relation to hydropower development. We expect that the PhD student will study component
parts of this complex in more detail than other parts, depending on personal interest and competences, as
well as logistic challenges. The successful candidate will be enrolled as a PhD candidate at the University of
Oslo, Department of Biosciences, and linked to CEES (Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis).
(1) To elucidate mechanisms by which changed hydrological regimes and environmental conditions influence
interactions among autotrophic components;
(2) To investigate the direct and indirect (biotic) effects of reduced flow on benthic macroinvertebrates and
(3) To investigate how overall ecosystem metabolism, primary and secondary production and organic matter
decomposition are influenced directly and indirectly by changes in flow, related environmental conditions
and biotic interactions.
Expected outcomes:
(1) Understanding of the main drivers of changes in the composition of autotrophic components and how
flow can be managed to avoid direct negative impacts on cultural services from e.g. nuisance growth;
(2) Quantification of how autotrophic components can indirectly influence ecosystem structure and
functioning, and the provisioning ecosystem services (biodiversity, nutrient-cycling, secondary production of
(3) An ecosystem understanding of cascading effects arising from the interplay between flow conditions and
biotic interactions that can conceptually be transferred to other systems.
University of Birmingham, UK for 3 months in Year 2 to undertake controlled mesocosm experiments
CBEC, UK for 3-6months in Years2/3 to undertake hydraulic modelling


Deadline for application:

Closing date: 30 November 2017

Post start date: February 2018

More information:


apply here:


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