PhD Researcher (NERC GW4 FRESH CDT)
Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK
As an ardent explorer and lifelong academic, with a deep and abiding interest in the wild world, I have built a valuable knowledge base of freshwater ecosystems and rewilding conservation science. I graduated recently from UCL with an MSc in Aqautic Science and take great interest in the roles of reinstating natural proccesses and native species in ecological restoration. Building on this, I am currently undertaking PhD research, within the NERC GW4 FRESH CDT programme, which will investigate “Quantifying the impact of beaver reintroduction on aquatic ecology”.
Beavers are recolonising the UK after an absence of >400 years. As a keystone species and as ecosystem engineers, Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) have an incredible capacity to manipulate the aquatic environments in which they live, catalysing disproportionately large effects on ecosystem structure and function through the creation of complex and variable habitats in mosaic-like wetlands which can potentially sustain a wide range of aquatic wildlife. These changes can be important for restoring ecosystem functions, enhancing habitat heterogeneity, raising biodiversity and contributing vital ecosystem services.
However, despite being commonly known as a keystone species, the full extent of the ecological impact of beavers is yet to be fully understood, especially in a UK context. The challenge of the PhD research is to quantify what the wide range of aquatic ecological impacts of beavers might be, including effects on fish, macroinvertebrates and vegetation, and predict where they will manifest across a range of lowland river ecosytems.
A large-scale MBACI research design will be applied to assess reach-scale ecological responses to beaver reintroductions by monitoring reference sites with established beaver families and control sites in beaver-free locations as well as capturing baseline and impact data where beaver reintroductions take place. Research will be supported by an expert project team, headed by Professor Richard Brazier, which are leading beaver reintroduction monitoring and modelling across all major beaver sites in the UK.
Broad research specialisms:
Freshwater Ecosystems. Ecology. Biodiversity. Conservation. Restoration. Rewilding.
BSc Geography (UCL)
MSc Aquatic Science (UCL)