Dr Gill Malin, UEA
Dr Naomi Greenwood, Cefas Lowestoft / Honorary Lecturer UEA
Dr Michelle Devlin, Cefas Lowestoft / Honorary Lecturer UEA
Coastal eutrophication is a worldwide issue with negative cultural and environmental impacts and its assessment is a formal requirement of several European Directives. Over recent decades river phosphate has declined through improved sewage treatment, but nitrogen, arising mostly from diffuse agricultural sources, is not decreasing similarly. This PhD is an exciting opportunity to advance understanding of how increased N:P ratios impact on phytoplankton composition. Climate change also alters diversity and bloom timings with further impacts on coastal N and P. A key challenge is to determine whether trait-based plankton community metrics would allow a step-change improvement in future eutrophication assessments.
Your aim is to improve understanding of how changing nutrient ratios are impacting on primary producers now and what could happen under future climate scenarios. Key research objectives and methods are:
- Interrogate existing nutrient and plankton datasets for nutrient input and N:P, phosphate limitation area and community structure trends in UK waters.
- Conduct seagoing research with Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Marine Scotland (MS) and the Environment Agency (EA) to determine the nutrient limiting primary producers across the North Sea through sampling, nutrient analysis and nutrient add-back incubations.
- Apply the alkaline phosphatase method to determine the importance of organic phosphorous.
- Model how climate-related changes could interact with this nutrient-perturbed system.
- Publish results in peer-reviewed journals and recommend changes to policy via Cefas and MS and practice via the Environment Agency.
You will work with a strong multidisciplinary team with excellent research track records on microalgae, nutrients and coastal seas policy at: UEA (Malin, Greenwood and Devlin) and Cefas (Greenwood and Devlin). You will do sea-going fieldwork with Cefas, MS (Bresnan) and the EA (Best).
You will develop advanced skills in field research, sample and data analysis, and transferable skills. These can open doors to careers in research, industry, commerce and marine policy.
An enthusiastic, self-motivated individual with good experimental skills, an oceanography, marine or environmental sciences degree, and knowledge of water analysis, microalgae and/or coastal seas would be ideal.