Cardiff University President's Research Scholarship: Response of anaerobic prokaryotic processes and communities in Severn Estuary sediments to environmental change (PhD Studentship)
Reference Number: R438
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Key Award Information
The Cardiff University Climate Change Network is offering the following President's Research Scholarship:
Project Title: Response of anaerobic prokaryotic processes and communities in Severn Estuary sediments to environmental change
Project Description: In intertidal sediments of the Severn Estuary anaerobic processes play a major role in the degradation of organic matter (e.g. sulphate-reduction up to ~60% of total degradation). However, it is not known how representative this is of the large areas of sub-tidal sediments and how both sediment types will respond to climate change. Neither is it known whether any planned tidal energy recovery system in this tidally dynamic estuary (~8 knot currents and 13 m tidal amplitude), would lead to significant decreased sediment resuspension, and hence, increased sediment anoxia and even higher rates of anaerobic processes. This is important as greater anoxia would kill many benthic organisms, potentially release toxic heavy metals, enhance phosphate release and eutrophication, reduce fixed nitrogen regeneration and produce harmful anaerobic degradation products (e.g. hydrogen sulphide and methane gas), with potential considerable deleterious environmental impact.
The aim of this project is to survey the extent of anaerobic bacterial processes in a geographically wide range of Severn Estuary intertidal sediments using a combination of oxygen and nutrient flux measurements, radiotracer activity and geochemical measurements, prokaryotic biomass and productivity determined. This will be compared to subtidal sediments collected by multi and gravity corer from the School’s research vessel. Molecular biological approaches will be used to characterise the dominant prokaryotic communities in both sediment types in order to link biodiversity with the measured activity, tidal currents, sediment mineralogy and particle size distributions. Sediment cores from sites with the greatest range in anaerobic processes and prokaryotic biodiversity will be selected for laboratory incubation studies under a range of simulated current flows and temperatures. Changes in fluxes across the sediment:water interface (e.g. oxygen, nutrients, metals, gases [CO2, CH4]), extent and type of anaerobic processes (e.g. sulphate-reduction and methanogenesis) and biodiversity changes will be monitored.
Supervisors: Professor R. John Parkes, Dr Henrik Sass, and Professor Andrew J. Weightman
This award will cover UK/EU Fees plus a Stipend matching the UK Research Council minimum (£13,590 for 2010/11)
Residency: This award is available to all UK and EU students.
Academic Criteria: Applicants must have either a 1st class Honours Degree in a relevant subject, or a 2:1 Honours Degree with an MSc or MSci degree in a relevant subject.
How to Apply
To apply, prospective applicants must first send a CV and Covering Letter to Ms. Liesbeth Diaz (Diaz@cardiff.ac.uk):
School of Earth & Ocean Sciences
Tel: 029 2087 5772.
Fax: 029 2087 4326.
For more information on this project:
More information is available on the website:
Alternatively, please contact Liesbeth Diaz:
Tel: 44 (0)29 208 75772
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