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Assessing the sustainability of freshwater aquaculture in the Philippines using palaeolimnology

We require a motivated, curious and independent student with interests in lake water quality and environmental change in the tropics to apply for our studentship investigating the impacts of aquaculture on the ecological integrity of lakes in the Philippines.

Based at the School of Geography in the University of Nottingham with Dr Suzanne McGowan and Prof Sarah Metcalfe and including a supervisory team from Lancaster University (Prof Philip Barker), National University of Singapore (Prof David Taylor) and the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines (Dr Rey Donne Papa) there will be opportunities for fieldwork and networking within South-eastern Asia.

The project will involve analysis of sediment cores for chlorophyll and carotenoid pigments and stable isotopes from several lakes across the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Aquaculture is currently the fastest growing livestock production sector globally and has exploded in the Philippines since a decree by President Marcos in 1973 sanctioned the accelerated development of fisheries resources.

Intensive aquaculture can degrade lake ecosystem integrity because of nutrient fertilization leading to harmful algal blooms (HABs), introduction of toxins and invasive species and increased organic inputs causing anoxic waters. The student will be responsible the collection and analysis of sediment cores to assess lake ecosystem response to fish farming across a range of aquaculture intensities. Training will be given in the high-performance liquid chromatography analysis of pigments, in sediment coring and other palaeolimnology techniques.

There are collaboration opportunities with the British Geological Survey through the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry and with the University of Nottingham campus in Malaysia. The funding package for this studentship will include fieldwork costs, laboratory consumables and attendance at two international conferences. The School of Geography is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and welcomes applicants from all backgrounds.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Geography, Environmental Science, Biology or Natural Sciences. Previous experience and/ or training in lake ecosystem ecology, palaeolimnology, environmental change, analytical laboratory work, and/ or tropical environments would be considered an advantage. Confidence in boats, an appetite for international travel and the ability to drive are also desirable.

For further information about the studentship please email Suzanne McGowan or Phil Barker