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Four Year UK/EU PhD Studentship

"Reducing the impact of invasive aquatic species using mathematical models"


Supervisors: Prof Rachel Norman at Stirling and Dr Paul Stebbings at CEFAS

Closing date: Friday 7th November 2014

Start date: 1st January 2015

Non-indigenous species (NIS) pose a major threat to global biodiversity, and incur significant economic costs, estimated at 1.7 billion per annum to GB. As a result it is necessary to prevent further introductions and spread. This is reflected both GB and EU legislation, such as the requirement to reduce the impact of marine NIS under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) . The ability to predict where, and by which pathway,NIS are most likely to arrive, establish and spread, is invaluable in reducing their impact on our marine environment. Previous work at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) has identified the pathways most likely to introduce NIS to the UK and Ireland and identified high and low risk pathways for different geographical regions.. For each geographic region they have then determined how likely general taxonomic groups are to be introduced and establish using environmental variables.

The aim of this proposal is to develop this work further in order to produce a user friendly modelling tool which managers could use to look at both biosecurity and where to focus monitoring efforts. Dynamical models of the introduction and spread of a number of key invasive species will be developed and different control mechanisms will be investigated. For example, the invasive seasquirt (Didemnum vexillum) is having significant impact so there is a need to consider how to prevent further introductions and spread as well as how to control measures could be most effectively implemented. We will use a variety of mathematical techniques to address these questions. In the first instance we will use coupled non-linear differential equations.

Management: The main thrust of this proposal is modeling and the student will get training and support in that area in Stirling. However they will spend a significant amount of time at Cefas working with the experts there. In particular CEFAS have the data and the Fishnet simulation tool which will be used for some aspects of this project. The student will also spend some time at field sites which will give them a more intuitive understanding of the biology of the systems and how data is collected. They will also have contact with DEFRA and will be involved in using the results of these models to inform policy decisions. The project will be jointly supervised by Rachel Norman at Stirling who has the modelling expertise and Paul Stebbing and Nick Taylor at Cefas who have the biological expertise.

To apply send your CV and a covering letter explaining why you are applying for this particular PhD to