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Postgraduate research project

Improving the sustainability of aquaculture: an assessment of water quality, biodiversity, and ecosystem services of chalk streams

Fully funded (UK only)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Chalk streams are important resources that face various threats. This project will focus on quantifying the costs and benefits of aquaculture on the Itchen and Test chalk streams. 

Chalk streams are nationally and internationally important resources that play a vital role in supporting a range of ecosystem services. These ecosystems underpin a complex multi-user environment, exemplified in the iconic chalk stream catchments of the Itchen and Test in Hampshire. 

Chalk streams provide water for domestic use and agriculture, as well as less tangible, yet life-improving advantages such as recreation, including fishing. They also provide a link to the natural world and our shared heritage. Chalk streams are under increasing pressure from pollution and environmental change. To safeguard their future, we need reliable information about their water quality, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. 

As a researcher on this project you will focus on quantifying the costs and benefits of aquaculture on the Itchen and Test catchments. This will enable a multi-user management of these chalk streams, underpinned by scientific evidence to ensure their long-term resilience. Optimising best practice in the aquaculture sector to minimise effects on river water quality will contribute to that goal. 

The five objectives of this project are:

  • characterise the spatial and temporal patterns of water quality (chemical, microbial, biological) within the Itchen and Test catchments with respect to aquaculture and identify key biodiversity areas for improving conservation actions
  • measure ecosystem services (including cultivated goods from aquaculture) provided within catchments to add substantially to the extremely limited fine-scale knowledge of our reliance on chalk streams
  • analyse the relationship between aquaculture and natural assets (water and biodiversity); and the relationship between aquaculture and the provision of other ecosystem services in order to determine if the need to preserve water quality and biodiversity itself is fundamental to ensuring the continual supply of these services
  • evaluate the fish farmer’s and other stakeholders’ preferences for biodiversity conservation and catchment resource-use policy to resolve potential conflicts among multiple stakeholder
  • develop the best practice guidance for the aquaculture sector

You will receive training in a range of techniques.

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