Enhancing fish and eel migration in rivers through flow field optimisation at control and pumping stations

About this project

Concern over the status of European eel, Anguilla anguilla, stocks is so great that the European Union has legislation (The EC Eel Regulation (1100/2007)) for their protection from human-mediated activities, including entrainment at pumping stations. However, gaps in our knowledge prevent adequate, cost-effective, remediation measures being identified. This studentship is one of six in the REDEEM research cluster (Research and Development of fish and Eel Entrainment Mitigation at pumping stations) that will focus on understanding fish and eel behaviour to minimise entrainment.

Manmade structures in river systems that abstract water alter the hydrodynamic conditions in rivers that has adverse impacts on the natural behaviour of fish and eels. Adult silver eels can be drawn into pumps and water intakes during downstream migration, and thus eel-specific downstream passage routes must be constructed. This project seeks to identify the best way to manipulate flow at these intake structures to reduce fish and eel entrainment and guide eels towards safe downstream passage routes. The studentship will work closely with other researchers in the REDEEM research cluster to analyse and interpret fine-scale silver eel behaviour in relation to hydrodynamic data.

The student will map real-time three-dimensional flows using state-of-the-art Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP) mounted on a Un-crewed Autonomous Vessel (UAV) at operational intakes, and develop a range of models – either physical laboratory scale flume models and/or using numerical simulation (e.g. Computational Flow Dynamics). These will be used to assess intake structure design and optimisation for fish and eel migration. The knowledge arising from the work will inform and revise policy, regulation and operational best practice for eels at water intakes at national, European and global levels. Our strong links with government and industry will ensure that the work will have immediately applicable outcomes and students gain industry-relevant skills and contacts.

You will be registered at University of Hull with a supervision team drawn from both academics at Hull along with other experts at academic institutes, including at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London. Applicants should have studied Environmental Sciences, Mathematics or Engineering at undergraduate level; previous experience of laboratory modelling, using CFD modelling and/or Geographical Information Systems (especially ArcGIS or QGIS) would be an advantage.


Professor Dan Parsons 

Christopher Hackney

Dr Jonathan Bolland 

Next steps


For UK/EU post-graduate students the scholarship will include fees at the 'home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,553 in 2018/19) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress. The students will also complete modules for research and transferable skills development.

Funding has been provided by EU European Marine and Fisheries Fund (ENG2130), Environment Agency (FCRM and Fisheries), Internal Drainage Boards, Association of Drainage Authorities and University of Hull.

Entry requirements

Applicants should be highly motivated, dedicated and enthusiastic and have:

  • Applicants should have at least a 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. It is anticipated that the successful applicant will have a 1st class undergraduate degree or Masters level qualification.

  • Hold a current driving licence as the role requires field site visits.

  • Excellent writing and fluency in English is expected.

  • Candidates will be required to work flexible hours in remote locations in the UK and other countries.

  • Prospective students are expected to pursue independent research and work effectively with colleagues to contribute to cluster research goals.


How to apply

Apply now

Application deadline: 30 September 2018

Research options:

PhD: 3 years (full-time)


Full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,777 in 2018/19) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

Full-time International Fee PhD Studentships will include full fees at the International student rate for three years, dependent on satisfactory progress.

The Postgraduate Training Scheme