We are recruiting a high calibre PhD researcher to work on a three year fully funded studentship investigating changes in the migrations of Atlantic salmon in relation to factors including climate change, with an emphasis on how changes in smolt migrations are impacting survival to spawning adults.
The Atlantic salmon is an ecological and economically important species whose populations are generally in decline across its range. Increasingly, evidence suggests that when the salmon migrate to sea as smolts, their condition (e.g. body size) and timing of seaward migration - their ‘migration phenology’ - strongly influence their marine growth and survival. However, due to environmental changes (e.g. warming from climate change), smolt migrations now occur earlier and average smolt body lengths are decreasing. These changes might thus be adversely impacting sea growth and survival, and so the long-term sustainability of populations.
The research will therefore test hypotheses relating to the causes of the contemporary population declines in anadromous salmonids, especially Atlantic salmon, with a focus on changes in their migration phenology. Testing will be completed using modelling approaches, with models initially developed using a long-term dataset on the River Frome, Dorset, before exploring the utility of these models on other salmon rivers in Britain and Northern France. Research objectives (O) are to: (O1) quantify general impacts of smolt condition (including length, weight and condition) on marine survival (e.g. age- and stage-specific survival); (O2) test the importance of smolt condition on marine survival versus alternative factors; (O3) explore the mechanisms driving impacts of smolt condition on marine survival; and (O4) use results of (O1) to (O3) to generalise findings to other populations and species, and identify potential management mitigation tools.
Field data collected in the studentship will add to long-term salmon data on the Frome, during which juvenile fish have been measured and tagged. Data from fixed tag recording stations and recapture events then provide individual smolt migration data and their complete life histories (i.e. immature juvenile to adult spawner). These are the data that will be used to develop the population models to test the relationships between migration phenology, marine growth and survival, and adult run size.
The studentship provides a range of training and research opportunities, and will involve working for extended periods at the FBA River Lab (https://www.fba.org.uk/the-river-laboratory), a field station in rural Dorset. Applicants are expected to have some experience of migratory fish ecology and statistical modelling techniques.
PhD partners are the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, with Stephen Gregory (https://www.gwct.org.uk/research/staff/fisheries/sgregory/) being on the supervisory panel, plus their partners in the SAMARCH European Inter-regional project (http://samarch.org/).
View the full project description here.
The closing date for applications is 25 March 2018.
Robert is a fish ecologist with interests across invasion, freshwater and coastal ecology, and parasitology. His current research topics cover the effects of global changes, such as climate change, habitat disturbance and introductions of non-native species, on the ecology and management of freshwater resources. His work on invasion ecology covers factors influencing the establishment of introduced species (e.g. the role of propagule pressure), subsequent impacts on biodiversity (e.g. sharing of trophic space, impacts of competition, predator-prey relationships), their life history traits across time and space (e.g. influence of latitude and temperature on growth), and their management in the environment (from pre-introduction to eradication). Outputs of Roberts work have included the development of risk management schemes, analysis and evaluation of eradication programmes and increased understandings of invasion patterns and processes. Species he regularly works on are topmouth gudgeon Pseudorasbora parva, common carp Cyprinus carpio and European barbel Barbus barbus. Robert works on natural systems (e.g. River Severn catchment) as well as more experimental systems where conditions can be controlled. On-going studies include investigations into the impact of climate change of UK fish communities, the population ecology and behaviour of barbel in the Rivers Great Ouse and Teme, and the ecology of native pike and non-native zander in the River Severn. Subjects of recent publications include predicting the impact of climate change on the growth and distribution of cyprinid fishes, the use of biocontrol to manage invasive fish populations and how parasites can influence population trophic niches. Robert is also an associate editor for the Journal of Applied Ecology an Annales de Limnologie (International Journal of Ecology).
Dr Phillipa Gillingham is a terrestrial biogeographer and macroecologist working in the School of Applied Sciences at Bournemouth University. Over the past 10 years she has worked on several terrestrial ecological entomology survey projects, mainly in the UK but also overseas, for various organisations. In general, her interests could be summed up as 'where species are found and why'.
Her main expertise is in the biogeography of invertebrates, with particular reference to the spatial distributions of species in relation to environmental factors, and how these are changing in response to climatic change. She can often be found in the field; during her PhD she studied the relative importance of microclimate and land use to Ground Beetles (Carabidae) using sites in the Dark Peak, near Snowdonia in Wales and the Trossachs in Scotland. Following this she worked as a research assistant on a project quantifying the impact of peat drainage on cranefly abundance in the Peak District, the North York Moors and near Snowdonia, and another comparing the impacts of organic and conventional upland farming on the diversity and abundance of Spiders, Bees and Earthworms across Wales.
She has a passion for Knowledge Exchange and maintain a network of collaborators from a wide range of environmental organisations and like to involve students at all levels throughout her research.
Stephen Gregory (external)
A fully-funded Studentship includes a maintenance grant of £14,777 per year to contribute towards living expenses during the course of your research, as well as a fee waiver for 36 months.
Associated costs, such as for fieldwork and conference attendance, will also be met under the Studentship.
When undertaking a research degree at BU, you will develop research skills in your specific project area and discipline, and you will also have an opportunity to develop wider, transferable skills which will assist in your future employment, whether within or outside academia.
The Researcher Development Framework, developed by the Doctoral College in line with the Research Councils UK (RCUK), will enable you to enhance your abilities in areas which are not necessarily discipline-specific.
An added benefit is the opportunity to meet researchers from other academic schools at BU through the activities of the Doctoral College and benefit from their experiences, skills, and perspectives.
Full entry requirements
The PhD Studentships are open to UK, EU and international students. Candidates for a PhD Studentship should demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 4 years and must demonstrate:
• A 1st class honours degree and/or a relevant Master's degree with distinction or equivalent.
In addition to satisfying minimum entry criteria, BU will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful completion.
Applicants will be asked to submit an online application form and a proposal (approximately 1500 words) outlining their understanding of the project for which they are applying, the approach they would envisage taking and what qualities they will bring to the research community.
- Current BU Doctoral students are not eligible to apply for a Studentship
- Current MRes/MPhil students can apply, subject to satisfactory completion of their Research Degree prior to being able to take up the award
- PhD Studentships cannot be used to support BU staff to complete doctoral programmes
It is expected that applicants have some knowledge of the ecology of Atlantic salmon (or similar fish species) and it is desirable that applicants have knowledge of statistical modelling techniques.
International entry requirements
If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:
- IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each component or equivalent.
View further information about our English language requirements.
A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.
You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.
How to apply
Click the green ‘Apply now’ button at the top of the page and complete the online application form. You can find further guidance about applying for a postgraduate research degree in our Postgraduate Research section and by reading our proposal guidance document.
The closing date for applications is 25 March 2018.
A research degree can open new career opportunities in commercial research and development, consultancy, or could lead you to starting your own business. You may alternatively consider a career in academia. You may wish to undertake research to contribute to your knowledge of a specialist subject, or develop your employability by enhancing your skills in project management and analysis.