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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

PhD Studentship: An ecosystem service approach to quantifying the role of freshwater biodiversity in supporting food security [CLOSED]

Published: 10 February 2011

Supervisors: Dr. Felix Eigenbrod and Prof. Guy Poppy

Project Description:
The vital importance of ecosystem services – the benefits humans gain from ecosystems – in supporting human life has been widely recognized since the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005 (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). A key area where ecosystem services – or the lack thereof – are likely to play an important role is in achieving food security. Clearly, services that relate to agricultural production will be key for food security. However, non-agricultural ‘wild foods’ – e.g. fish and forest products – can be very important in some areas. Indeed, a recent UNEP report (Dugan et al. 2010) shows that inland freshwater fisheries provide over 33% of the world’s small scale fish catch and employ over 60 million people, and that this supply of fish is particularly important for human nutrition in Africa (where 100 million people regularly consume such fish) and southest Asia (where 60 million people get their main source of protein from inland fisheries). Moreover, wild foods such as freshwater biological resources can act as a ‘safety net’ for the poor by acting as an alternative source of food when harvests fail through ecological or socio-economic crises such as droughts or wars (Bene 2007).

The goal of this PhD will be to build on the UNEP’s global assessment of inland fisheries as an ecosystem service (Dugan et al. 2010) by quantifying linkages between inland fisheries, biodiversity and other drivers of food security, with the view of better understanding how best to manage inland fisheries sustainably. The project will take advantage of the enormous amount of data on biodiversity held by the world’s leading repository of biodiversity data – the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), - and in particular the expertise and data of the Freshwater Unit – the CASE partner in this project – and the research strength of the University of Southampton on issues of food security and ecosystem services.

Start Date: October 2011
Application Deadline: 24th February 2011

Funding:
This four-year CASE studentship is fully funded, covering University tuition fees (at UK /EU level) and provides a tax-free bursary, rising annually in line with the UK Government (Research Councils) recommended rate. An additional top-up to the stipend of £2500 per year is provided by the CASE partner, IUCN. In order for EU students to be eligible for a full studentship, they must have been a resident in the UK for at least three recent years. Other EU applicants may receive a fees only award.

Requirements:
A first or upper second-class degree in biological or environmental sciences and/or a MSc in a relevant field are required. In addition, publication(s) in relevant peer-reviewed scientific journal(s) and expertise in GIS and/or in working with large databases such as those held by the IUCN would be a distinct advantage.

Click here for Information on how to apply.

Selected references:
Bene et al. 2007. Increasing the contribution of small-scale fisheries to poverty alleviation and food security. FAO; Rome.

Dugan et al. 2010. Blue harvest: Inland fisheries as an ecosystem service. United Nations Environment Program; WorldFish Center, Penang, Malaysia

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005 Ecosystems and human well-being : synthesis The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Washington DC: Island Press.

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