PhD opportuntiy: Developing a trait-based approach to understand Sphagnum responses to hydrological stress in the context of peatland restoration

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Large-scale and fast-paced peatland restoration interventions currently happening across the UK are only going to lead to successful outcomes if they increase the capacity of degraded blanket bogs to withstand future threats such as climate change, but also invasive species, wildfires or pollution. This capacity reflects resilience thresholds that relate to the re-establishment of feedbacks between production, decomposition, and eco-hydrology, which are still poorly characterised for blanket bogs.

This project aims to understand the eco-hydrological triggers of stress responses and recovery in Sphagnum and will benefit from access to a range of sites spread along climate and topographical gradients found in the “Flow Country” of North Scotland, a site of global significance.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  1. Do Sphagnum species exposed more regularly to water stress exhibit physiological and metabolic adaptations absent from species exposed to wetter conditions?
  2. Are there key thresholds/barriers in local edaphic conditions and landscape features that need to be overcome to facilitate Sphagnum recovery following degradation?
  3. Can Sphagnum stress and recovery be remotely monitored effectively?
  4. How do Sphagnum species provenance (wet/dry climate) and combinations (single vs mixed species) alter response to restoration?

SUPERVISORS:

  1. Dr Roxane Andersen, University of the Highlands and Islands (Director of Studies)
  2. Dr Rebekka Artz, James Hutton Institute.
  3. Dr Neil Cowie, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
  4. Dr Jens-Arne Subke, University of Stirling.

We expect candidates with an undergraduate degree (minimum 2:1) in a relevant field (e.g. biology, environmental sciences, geography, botany) or equivalent. English language requirement: IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted.

Deadline: 30/04/2021

Project details: https://eri.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/PhD-advert_Leverhulme_Sphagnum-1.pdf

Application form: https://eri.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Application-form-_Leverhulme-PHD-3.docx

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