Dr Antony Knights (School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth)
Dr Mick Hanley (School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth)
Dr Andy Foggo (School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth)
Dr John Griffin (Department of Biosciences, Swansea University)
Dr Austin Brown (ARUP)
Urbanisation is driving the conversion of natural habitats to novel ecosystems – simplifying biological communities and impacting ecosystem functioning. In response to global sustainable development targets, there is increasing incentive to design urban systems to bring back marine life to urban shorelines, to enhance ecosystem (multi)functionality (i.e. that supports multiple ecosystem functions such as biofiltration, nutrient cycling, primary production) and yield mutual benefits for society and nature. ‘Greening of Grey Infrastructure’ (GGI) strives to bring back marine life onto engineered shorelines (e.g. seawalls). It is becoming a popular environmental solution for rehabilitation, but both theory and practice lag behind work on land. To date, coastal GGI solutions have primarily been trialled at experimental scales and focused on enhancing biodiversity on local scales, making it difficult to predict consequences/benefits when scaled-up to ‘real-world’ scenarios.
This studentship will evaluate relationships between physical complexity, biodiversity, and ecosystem multi-functionality. It will apply this new empirical understanding to inform the upscaling of GGI solutions. Using a combination of in-situ field and laboratory measurements, the studentship will measure key ecosystem functions provided by existing shorelines both with and without GGI solutions, and use these alongside modelling approaches to provide estimates of ecosystem multi-functionality that GGI could provide if scaled-up to larger seascape scales.
The student will join the Marine Eco-engineering Research Unit and benefit from being part of a large global network (i.e. The World Harbour Project). The student will build independence and expertise through research leadership including project management and scientific communication (i.e. publications, conference presentations). The student will receive training experimental design, statistics and field experimental from the supervisory team and ARIES DTP training schemes. The student will also be supported to undergo additional external training in functional traits (via supervisor at Swansea University) and modelling techniques. They will have the opportunity to gain invaluable industry experience through a 3-month placement with CASE partner ARUP, a global engineering company specialising in sustainable development.
Degree in marine biology, ecology, environmental science or related discipline. Desirable skills include ecological sampling, programming and statistics (e.g. R/Matlab).