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January 16, 2017

Capturing ecosystem service delivery from coral reefs

Capturing ecosystem service delivery from coral reefs 400 x 400 px

Coral reefs house exceptional biodiversity, and provide food and livelihoods to hundreds of millions of people across the tropics. The full range of benefits people gain from coral reefs can be termed ecosystem services, and range from fishing and coastal protection, to education and other cultural benefits.

Ecosystem services may be quantified through direct measures of the ecosystem condition, or through interviewing people to understand which services they prioritize or perceive as being in best condition. Both approaches can be useful, however the extent to which they are comparable, and specifically whether measures of the ecosystem can capture the benefits perceived by people is poorly understood. This is particularly important given the threats faced by coral reefs, with many reefs now severely degraded.

Studying healthy and degraded coral reefs and adjacent fishing communities, this project will 1) determine peoples priorities and preferences for a range of ecosystem services, 2) quantify aspects of the reef ecology to assess how well specific ecosystem processes or proposed ecosystem service providers capture the benefits perceived by people, and 3) establish whether broader environmental proxies are capable of capturing the ecosystem service provision perceived by people.

This project would provide the opportunity to combine and develop skills in marine ecology on coral reefs with social surveys of people’s perceptions of the benefits they draw from nature. With fieldwork in the Indian Ocean, and supervisory support at Lancaster University, Bangor University, and Stockholm University, the project offers unparalleled opportunities for research and training on coupled human-environment systems.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Geography or Natural Sciences. Applicants with Masters degrees, or those with relevant research experience will be highly competitive. Some exposure to ecosystem services or marine biology desirable.

For further details, or to enquire about eligibility please send a short statement regarding your background and interest in the project, and a CV to Professor Nick Graham Nick.Graham@Lancaster.ac.uk