09 May 2022

The closing date for all applications is 16:00 BST on 23 May 2022.

Applications are invited for the following three-year, eight-month PhD studentships. The studentships will start on 1 October 2022.

Environmental management aims to achieve good ecosystem states and avoid adverse or degraded states. Assessing ecosystem state requires indicators of condition and thresholds above which state is defined as ‘good’. For example, the successful management of marine protected areas requires the achievement of good condition and identification of thresholds in ecosystem state, below which the system becomes degraded. The choice of such thresholds has used a wide variety of approaches and in many cases has been haphazard and subjective with varied success and associated socio-economic impacts. Different approaches may result in very different thresholds for prompting management actions, and there is therefore an urgent need to identify the most appropriate methods for identifying thresholds for desirable ecosystem states. Solving this problem requires the integration of ecosystem science, social science and marine policy.

This PhD project will address these questions: 1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of different methods for setting thresholds for desirable ecosystem states? 2. What can be considered as a good ecosystem state?

These questions will be evaluated using a variety of ecological and social science techniques (literature synthesis, simulation, meta-analysis, stakeholder elicitation) and using data from a variety of marine ecosystems, including benthic and pelagic ecosystems. The student will be trained in these techniques, and will undertake placements at several organisations that provide evidence-based advice on ecosystem management to apply the outcomes of the research in different advice settings (ICES, JNCC and NIRAS).