PhD Studentships Modelling the effectiveness of farm mitigation strategies for reducing the delivery of diffuse pollution to watercourses at catchment to national scales.

Professor David Sear (, Professor Adrian Collins (

The delivery of diffuse water pollution derived from agriculture is considered to be among the most important causes of ecological degradation in world rivers. Catchment managers and and environment communities urgently require more effective tools to help deliver on policy requirements for improved aquatic environments and delivery of sustainable food production. In the UK, the Demonstration Test Catchment (DTC) project seeks to provide underpinning research, from farm to catchment scale, which informs both policy and practical approaches for the reduction of diffuse pollution and the improvement of ecological status in freshwaters, whilst maintaining economically viable food production. By focussing on instrumented catchments across a range of landscape types and farming practices (Rivers Avon, Wensum, Eden and Tamar) the DTC project is providing unprecedented data with which to test, validate and develop spatial models of diffuse pollution delivery to watercourses and its ecological impact.

One key focus of the work is the use of improved empirical information on mitigation option/strategy efficacy, collected by the programme, in conjunction with the refinement of modelling and upscaling approaches for demonstrating the benefits of mitigation measures for diffuse pollution from agriculture at catchment to national scales. This studentship will contribute to that modelling and upscaling work and will thereby involve the use and refinement of existing statistical approaches, process-based models and decision support tools. The studentship will provide an exciting opportunity to work at the science-policy interface and to interact with the DTC consortia which currently comprise members from over 40 different organisations. The type of science questions likely to be addressed by this PhD could include:

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  1. How effective are different land use mitigation options for reducing diffuse pollution under different future climate scenarios?
  2. How sensitive are different agricultural landscapes to land use/climate changes?
  3. How effective are farm scale mitigation options in delivering ecological benefits in watercourses? (emphasis on benthic spawning fish and invertebrates)

Applications are invited from suitably qualified graduates with a background in physical geography, environmental science, soil science, environmental engineering or related disciplines. Applicants must have competence in statistics and computer programming. The student will receive a maintenance grant equivalent to that of a RCUK NERC Studentship. The studentship is open only to UK and EU residents. Further questions can be addressed to the principal supervisors; Professor Adrian Collins (, Professor David Sear  ( or Dr Steven Anthony (

Applicants should send a letter of application and a current CV to Helen Johnson, Graduate School, Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ, Telephone 023 8059 2216, email For the latest information on postgraduate opportunities within the School of Geography, please visit our website at

Funding 50% DEFRA and 50% Geography and Environment.

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