PhD Studentships Transitions in arctic ecosystems: a Holocene perspective

Project Supervisors: Dr. Peter Langdon and Prof. Mary Edwards

Carbon cycling and ecosystem function in arctic and subarctic lakes

Building on currently funded NERC-LAC (Lakes in the Arctic Carbon cycle) research, this project would address how lake ecosystems exhibit stability under a range of scenarios of environmental change and how they progress through externally driven transitions, as might be expected to occur with arctic climate warming.  Lakes function as centres of carbon processing for the surrounding landscape; carbon availability structures food webs and determines the fate of carbon in the system.  As the Arctic landscape experiences warming, various properties of soils and vegetation in lake catchments will change, in turn driving a response in the lake ecosystem. The study will explore the record of environmental change at lakes on land surfaces with different geomorphic histories and in different modern vegetation zones; in some cases Holocene vegetation patterns have been relatively stationary, while other regions have seen major changes in soil development and vegetation cover. Studying Holocene change allows the investigation of rates and magnitudes of response to forcing not possible using modern observations, allowing us to investigate the nature of change (e.g., linear, non-linear, the role of hysteresis) and the effect of the state of the catchment on lake qualities such as biodiversity and food-web complexity.

Further details about our research group, Palaeoenvironmental Laboratory at the University of Southampton (PLUS: is available on our web pages.

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Candidates must have or expect to gain a first or strong upper second class degree, in an appropriate discipline, not necessarily Geography. Details on how to apply are available from the Graduate School, Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ, Telephone 023 8059 2216, email Informal enquiries may be made to Professor Mary Edwards ( and/or Dr Peter Langdon ( For the latest information on postgraduate opportunities within Geography and Environment, please visit our website at

Matching funding available would include all field travel and travel to UK project meetings, plus costs of sample analysis.

To apply for this post, please click on the Apply button below.

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