MSc River Basin Management, University of Stirling (2013)
BSc Environmental Studies, The Open University (2010)
Supervisors: Dr David Copplestone (University of Stirling), Prof Andrew Tyler (University of Stirling), Dr Nick Smith (National Nuclear Laboratory)
Start Date: 1st February 2013
3B155, Cottrell Building
Biological & Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling
Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA
tel: +44 (0)1786 466370
fax: +(44) 1786 467843
Redistribution of intertidal sediment contaminants by benthic diatoms
As an important component of the intertidal zone microphytobenthos interacts with the sediment and fauna to influence sediment distribution, it adsorbs contaminants (e.g. heavy metals and radionuclides) and forms a key part in the estuarine food chain. Through the use of a mesocosm, adsorption and uptake of contaminants from various sediment types by microphytobenthos assemblages will be studied in the laboratory. Time series airborne remote sensing will be used to build on previous studies and further examine relationships between sediment and microphytobenthos cover with a particular focus on seasonality and extreme weather events. Spectral measurement will enable the upscaling of results to characterise microphytobenthos in the intertidal zone. The potential for contaminant redistribution by suspended microphytobenthos will be examined using a particle tracking model developed by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC). Potential environmental and human health impacts arising from ingestion of microphytobenthos by razorshells and cockles will also be addressed through the use of contaminant accumulation models.
This research is being carried out as part of a wider ESPRC funded project entitled “Adaptation and Resilience of Coastal Energy Supply” (ARCoES) encompassing four research strands, involving 14 institutions and six PhD studentships. The project aims to determine the threats posed to future energy generation and the distribution network by flooding and erosion, changing patterns of coastal sedimentation, water temperature and the distribution of plants and animals in the coastal zone. As well as having important consequences for the operation of coastal power stations, these climate change impacts also affect the neighbouring coastline and coastal waters. As a key contribution to the ARCoES research aims, the University of Stirling is researching the long-term environmental and health implications of remobilisation and transport of contaminated sediments around the UK coastline.