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REDEEM: Research and Development of fish and Eel Entrainment Mitigation at pumping stations

About this project

The European eel, Anguilla anguilla, is widely distributed throughout European estuarine and inland waters, but concern over the status of eel stocks is so great that the European Union has specific legislation (The EC Eel Regulation (1100/2007)) for their protection from human mediated activities including impingement and entrainment at pumping stations. Water is frequently pumped from or into rivers to provide water for domestic supply, agriculture and industry as well as being controlled for flooding and hydropower generation. Eels can be drawn into pumps and water intakes, especially adult silver eels during downstream migration. However, the extent of the problem is not fully understood and gaps in our knowledge prevent adequate, cost-effective remediation measures being identified. Funding to address knowledge gaps 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.

This research cluster will focus on understanding fish and eel behaviour to develop innovative measures to minimise entrainment and research effectiveness of existing and new technology. Specifically, the research will focus on understanding the spatial distribution of fish and eels in pumped catchments, the processes that lead to entrainment and the effectiveness of altered operating regimes, fish-friendly pumps and novel downstream bypass channels for minimising entrainment. The truly inter-disciplinary investigation will incorporate state-of-the-art acoustic telemetry (under Home Office Licence), multi-beam imaging sonar, eDNA and flow modelling techniques currently performed by researchers across the University of Hull, which will ensure we make major advances in the field and research quality will be maximised. The cluster will be composed of the following postgraduate studentships:

  1. Understanding the timing and drivers of European eel seaward spawning migration (Supervisors: Bolland, Wright, Piper, Azevedo). This studentship will focus on understanding the timing of and environmental influences on silver eel migration throughout their range, including the Azores, using telemetry techniques. The findings will help identify the feasibility of using operational changes as an alternative measure for compliance with eel regulations at pumping stations and hydropower plants with bypass channels. Applicants should have studied Biology or Environmental Sciences at undergraduate level; previous experience in the use of fish telemetry techniques will be an advantage.

  2. The effectiveness of fish-friendly pumping stations (Bolland, Angelopoulos, Nunn). This studentship will focus on understanding the impact of ‘fish-friendly’ pumps of differing type, size and rotation speed, as well as pipework and outfalls on eel survival and condition using autopsies on eels that have passed through pumping stations. Delays upstream of fish-friendly pumping stations and onward migration after passage will also be investigated using multi-beam imaging sonar and acoustic telemetry.  The findings will help identify the feasibility of using ‘fish-friendly’ pumps with and without modified pipework as an alternative measure for compliance with eel regulations at new and existing pumping stations. Applicants should have studied Biology, or Environmental Sciences, Civil or Mechanical Engineering at undergraduate level; previous experience in dissection and the use of histopathology techniques will be an advantage.

  3. The attractiveness and effectiveness of safe downstream passage routes at pumping station (Bolland, Piper, Cattaneo, Parsons). This studentship will focus on understanding the fine-scale behaviour of silver eels immediately upstream of pumping stations using acoustic telemetry, multi-beam imaging sonar and PIT telemetry. Specific focus will be dedicated to understanding the response of eels approaching deleterious intakes and safe downstream passage routes. The findings will help identify the most effective type, location and operational flows for alternative downstream passage routes at pumping stations. Applicants should have studied Biology, Mathematics, Civil or Mechanical Engineering at undergraduate level; previous experience in the use of statistical software to analyse large spatio-temporal datasets (e.g. R, ArcGIS or QGIS) would be an advantage.

  4. Mapping and modelling flows upstream of pumping stations to minimise fish and eel entrainment (Parsons, Bolland, Piper). This studentship will focus on understanding the hydrodynamic characteristics of pumping station intakes using Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP), Computational Flow Dynamics (CFD) and scaled laboratory experiments. The findings will help identify how hydrodynamic manipulation can reduce coarse fish and eel entrainment in deleterious intakes and guide eels towards safe downstream passage routes. Applicants should have studied Environmental Sciences, Mathematics or Civil Engineering at undergraduate level; previous experience of FLUENT, OpenFOAM and/or Geographical Information Systems (especially ArcGIS or QGIS) would be an advantage.

  5. The distribution of eels and coarse fish in pumped catchments using eDNA based monitoring (Hänfling, Nunn, Bolland). This studentship will develop an understanding of the spatio-temporal distribution of fish eDNA in lotic ecosystems and how these data can be used to describe fish community structure and to develop predictive models of fish distribution. A specific focus will be on investigating the driver of eel distribution in relation to pumping stations and other abiotic and biotic factors. The project provides an exciting opportunity to combine state-of-the art molecular analysis with ecological modelling approaches. The findings will help address fundamental ecological questions and inform management in prioritisation of pumping stations for remediation. Applicants should have studied Biology, Environmental Sciences or Geography at undergraduate level; previous experience in at least one of the following would be an advantage:  eDNA techniques, bioinformatics, ecological modelling and/or Geographical Information Systems (especially ArcGIS or QGIS).

Successful students will be registered at University of Hull, supervised by academics in the School of Environmental Sciences, and second supervision will be provided by subject experts at academic institutes elsewhere in the UK and around the world. Students will receive specialist training in state-of-the-art field, laboratory and advanced data analysis techniques and will be required to spend periods of time working at remote locations in the UK and other countries. The knowledge arising from this research is anticipated to inform and revise policy, regulation or operational best practice for eels at pumps and water intakes at national, European and global levels. Our strong links with government and industry partners will ensure that the work will have immediately applicable outcomes and students gain industry-relevant skills and contacts.   

Supervisors

You are strongly advised to contact your potential supervisor and to discuss your research proposal, well before you submit an application. Please refer to the environemental sciences research pages.

If you have any queries, please email Dr Jonathan Bolland

Next steps

Funding

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.

  • The successful appointee will have a flexible approach to problem solving, possess good practical and time management skills.

  • Excellent writing and fluency in English is expected.

  • Candidates should be willing to work flexible hours in remote locations.

  • Prospective students are expected to pursue independent research and be able to interact and work effectively with colleagues as their independent projects will jointly contribute to cluster research goals.

How to apply

Apply now

Application deadline: 12th June 2018

Research options:

PhD: 3 years (full-time)

Fees

For UK/EU post-graduate students the scholarship will include fees at the 'home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,553 in 2017/18) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.