PHD Project

December 14, 2016

Working with natural processes to restore lake habitats

Working with natural processes to restore lake habitats

The deterioration in water quality across the world over recent decades as a result of nutrient pollution is now a huge environmental problem. The need to restore the water quality of lakes is stimulating the use of a range of remediation techniques. This PhD will take advantage of a unique natural experiment in which pollution problems in Elterwater, a small lake in the English Lake District, are being tackled by an innovative methodology involving alteration to the hydrological flushing of the lake.

The project will involve:

  1. Regular fieldwork at Elterwater to collect chemical and ecological data
  2. Analysis of these data and existing data collected at Elterwater prior to the flushing experiment to understand how changes in flushing impact the ecology of the lake
  3. Analysis of unique very long-term data records for other lakes in Cumbria to elucidate historic impacts of changes in river flow on lake ecology
  4. Use of a process-based phytoplankton model to translate understanding to other lakes

The student will be based in the Lake Ecosystems Group at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Lancaster and will work closely with Lancaster University staff at the Lancaster Environment Centre. During the PhD a wide range of training will be provided including in limnological fieldwork, data analysis and computer modelling. The PhD is a CASE award with Natural England so will also benefit from training at Natural England as well as an additional £1000/year to the stipend.

The successful applicant will need to be: enthusiastic, numerate, able to take part in lake fieldwork in all conditions, interested in ecology and sediment chemistry, and to possess a full UK driving license, whilst it will also be an advantage to have good communication skills, a practical attitude, experience with computer programming and to be pro-active and self-motivated.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level in a numerate, scientific or environmental discipline. An enthusiasm to carry out field sampling in lakes, laboratory experiments and analysis combined with process-based modelling is also required.

For further details, please contact Dr Ian Jones (, Professor Phil Barker ( or Dr Ellie Mackay (