PhD studentship: developing meaningful marine biodiversity indicators to support conservation

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 October 2022.

Application deadline: 20 May 2022

Interview: 7 June 2022

Location: Plymounth

Funding: UK students, EU students, International students

Funding amount: £16,062 per annum + full Home tuition fees


To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Biological Sciences (and select the entry point of October 2022),then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Online application

Before applying, please ensure you have read the Doctoral College’s general information on applying for a research degree.

For more information on the admissions process please contact

Project description

At the base of marine foodwebs, changes in plankton communities affect ecosystem services, including climate change mitigation and fisheries yield. A suite of plankton indicators, developed in collaboration with policy-makers, are used to assess aspects of plankton diversity, functioning, and productivity for UK/EU biodiversity policy. There is now an urgent need to address key questions on what the observed changes in these indicators mean for natural capital and ecosystem services and how the indicators respond to climate change, including extreme events. Answering these questions is urgently required to provide robust scientific information to inform decision-making.


The student will apply statistical modelling approaches to data from the world’s most extensive plankton network to 1) develop policy-relevant plankton indicators for climate change (including ocean acidification); 2) analyse relationships between plankton indicators, determining which are most robust for inclusion in policy assessments; 3) investigate links between plankton indicators and existing foodweb indicators to understand how these relationships change spatio-temporally, and 4) explore what changes in these indicators mean for natural capital and ecosystem services. This work will be in collaboration with policy working groups and Defra to ensure relevance of outputs to UK/EU marine biodiversity and natural capital policy frameworks.


The student will receive training in spatial-temporal analysis of large datasets, statistical techniques, natural capital, and application of science to policy through participation in UK and international science-policy workshops, expanding the student’s personal network through working with scientists and key policy stakeholders involved in the UK/EU marine biodiversity conservation community.

University of Plymouth, 20 April 2022. More information.

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