Putting Biodiversity back Together: Processes controlling the re-assembly of Ecosystems
Coventry University has been voted ‘Modern University of the Year’ three times running by The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide. Ranked in the UK’s top 15 (Guardian University Guide), we have a global reputation for high quality teaching and research with impact. Almost two-thirds (61%) of our research was judged ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.
Earth is arguably undergoing the sixth mass extinction event of its history. Because biodiversity determines the presence and magnitude of key ecosystem functions, such as water purification and productivity, species loss can severely impact the health and livelihoods of people. In response to this crisis, ecological restoration has become a multi-billion dollar industry. However, few restoration projects are monitored, and those that are often show no improvement.
Reasons for the failure of ecological restoration schemes continue to be hotly debated. Emerging evidence suggests that spatial processes involving the dispersal capacities of organisms are of crucial importance. These processes may be strong enough to limit improvement in ecological status even if environmental conditions at an individual site have improved after management intervention. However, the search for conclusive evidence is restricted by the labour-intensiveness of traditional biological sampling methods.
This project will apply a novel combination of eDNA and statistical modelling techniques developed by the supervisory team to map and analyse biodiversity patterns over large extents and at high resolutions throughout river networks. The aim is to understand the processes that influence the success or failure of ecological restoration efforts and make robust predictions of management outcomes at regional scales. The student will be largely based with project partner Severn Rivers Trust at their headquarters in the Worcestershire countryside. Data collection will focus on specific sub-catchments within the Severn river basin.