Testate amoebae as environmental indicators in natural and artificial peat pools

Supervisors: Dr Graeme Swindles and Professor Lee Brown.

Small standing water bodies (ponds/pools) are of significant importance for both biodiversity and carbon (C) cycling but to date have received minimal attention compared to rivers and lakes. In peatlands, pools have moderated thermal dynamics compared to surrounding soils owing to the higher specific heat capacity of water and contain significant amounts of dissolved carbon. Therefore, these habitats might act as ‘bioreactors’ in which significant amounts of C are respired by aquatic micro-organisms. Alternatively, the wetted habitat may provide favourable conditions for aquatic plants and mosses serving to sequester C. Testate amoebae are a polyphyletic group of amoeboid protists and represent dominant microbial consumers in peatlands.

In this project we will investigate the ecology of testate amoebae in natural and artificial peat pools and test their potential as bioindicators and for monitoring of these ecosystems. The project will involve fieldwork in Northern England, laboratory analyses, microscopy, data analysis and presentation.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or be in their final year and expecting to receive, a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1) in a relevant subject. Applicants will need to have their own funding in place for fees and living costs. Study can begin on the first of any month.

How to apply

Please see “Step 2” on our How to apply page.

UK/EU applicants may be eligible for a £1000 Masters by Research Bursary, funded by the Ecology and Global Change cluster. Up to 2 bursaries are available and will be awarded on academic merit. Applications received before the 30th June 2019 will be considered for the bursary.

For project enquiries, please contact Dr Graeme Swindles or Professor Lee Brown. For application enquiries, please contact Jacqui Manton, e: j.manton@leeds.ac.uk.