November 28, 2018

Blooming blanket weed: managing nuisance algae in National Trust water bodies

We are seeking a student with a love of fresh waters, algae and experimental ecology to study the problems of nuisance blanket weed blooms in UK water bodies. This CASE studentship with a £1000 per annum stipend top up is supported by the National Trust, who will provide an additional £1000 to support research costs. Comprising various filamentous green macroalgae genera (including Cladophora, Ulva, Hydrodictyon and Spirogyra), blanket weed blooms can damage ecosystem services, conservation and amenity value of freshwaters. The algal masses can harbour pathogens, disrupt the ecological balance of ecosystems and reduce access for water-based activities. Reasons for the sudden proliferation of blanket weeds are poorly understood, but probably linked to nutrient (N and P) supply, climate warming, inter-species competition, and trophic interactions. The studentship will focus on understanding the extent of the problem in the UK, the causes of blanket weed blooms, and identifying sustainable management techniques. Support from the National Trust will include access to affected sites and relevant datasets, with a focus on Clumber Park Lake (Nottinghamshire) as a case study site.

The project will employ a range of approaches including systematic literature review, questionnaire surveys, limnological monitoring, laboratory experiments on algae and mesocosm experiments in lakes. The student will be based in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham supervised by Suzanne McGowan and the project will include a 4 month secondment to CEH Lancaster to work with the Co-supervisor Stephen Maberly. The student will also be supported by Martyn Kelly, an algal expert from Bowburn Consultancy and Carl Hawke from the National Trust. The funding package for this studentship will include costs for fieldwork, secondment relocation, laboratory consumables and contributions to conference attendance. The School of Geography is an Athena SWAN silver 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 Biology, Natural Sciences, Geography or Environmental Science. Previous experience and/ or training in limnology, algal ecology and experimental procedures (including numerical analyses) would be considered an advantage. The ability to drive is essential.

For further information about the studentship please e mail Suzanne McGowan suzanne.mcgowan@nottingham.ac.uk.