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Doctoral student, Estuarine ecology and biogeomorphology - 2019BAPFWETEF064Posted by: University of Antwerp
Posted date: 2019-Feb-18
The Faculty of Science is seeking to fill a full-time (100%) vacancy in the Department of Biology for a doctoral student in the area of estuarine ecology and biogeomorphology
PhD grant Role of intertidal areas in the suspended matter behaviour in the Schelde estuary
The Ecosystem Management Research Group (ECOBE) is one of the research groups of the University of Antwerpen. The research of ECOBE is focused on fundamental and applied ecological research of aquatic ecosystems, wetlands and the processes in the land-water interaction along the whole river continuum and the river-coastal sea interaction. The studied systems vary from small streams with riparian margins over larger rivers and floodplains to estuaries. These studies, both descriptive and experimental in nature, are integrated to predict the impact of different management options on the functioning and the biodiversity of the system.
For more than 20 years, special attention is paid to the study of the Schelde estuary and the scientific support of the necessary management actions to meet both human use as the ecological functioning of the system. An estuary is a very complex system with strong interactions between hydrodynamics, morphodynamics, biochemistry and ecology. Especially these interactions are the core research topics of ECOBE.
Over the last years an increase in suspended matter (SPM) concentration in the Schelde estuary is observed. This increase in SPM is decreasing the light availability in the water column, thus threatening the algal primary production and hence influencing the entire food chain.
Deposition of SPM in gullies, on tidal flats and tidal marshes on the one hand, and erosion or resuspension on the other hand, will decrease or increase the SPM concentration in the water column. A lot of research has been done on sedimentation and erosion patterns. However, the link between these patterns and the SPM concentration in the water column is poorly understood.
Aim of this PhD is to investigate the role of sedimentation and erosion on suspended matter concentrations in the water column. This study will focus on the entire Schelde estuary (both Westerschelde and Zeeschelde). It will require regular field work, such as tidal campaigns to monitor simultaneously SPM deposition on intertidal areas and SPM changes in the water column, combined with data analysis, GIS analyses and modelling.
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