Research Fellow in Freshwater Lake Palaeoecology

Southampton, United Kingdom
£34,314 to £36,333
24 May 2023
End of advertisement period
20 Jun 2023
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Landscape Dynamics and Ecology

Location:  Highfield Campus
Salary:   £34,314 to £36,333
Full Time Fixed Term (until 30/06/2026)
Closing Date:  Tuesday 20 June 2023
Reference:  2304623WR

University of Southampton, School of Geography & Environmental Science (SoGES).

Start Date from 1st September 2023.

A range of metrics show freshwater ecosystems as amongst the most vulnerable on global scales, yet systematic solutions for their recovery or restoration are not available anywhere in the world. Recovering a lake that has undergone a regime shift is not straightforward, with hysteresis and the strength of new feedback loops often causing failure. The holder of this full time post will undertake novel scientific research on freshwater lake ecosystems as part of the exciting NERC-funded project entitled ‘Recovery pathways for lake ecosystems’ awarded to Prof. Pete Langdon and colleagues. The project goal is to quantify the balance of factors influencing the recovery of freshwater ecosystems from undesirable (eutrophic) states. We aim to provide a unifying theoretical and practical framework for understanding what drivers and within-lake processes influence lake recovery pathways. This will be developed through three work packages, comprising data assimilation (WP1), empirical analyses (WP2) and system-based modelling (WP3), working with lake system stakeholders across all WPs. 

The researcher will work on three main tasks providing the opportunity to gain skills in sampling design, fieldwork (UK and overseas), microfossil, macrofossil, geochemical and molecular data collection approaches, data analysis and modelling. 

(i) Collate and review globally available data from lakes that have been subject to eutrophication, and subsequently have started or undergone full or partial recovery (WP1).  (ii) Generate comprehensive full ecosystem datasets (multiple food-web trophic levels) from lakes that have undergone full or partial recovery. We will analyse new sediment cores across representative lake types (deep/shallow, large/small) where good information exists across sufficient time horizons on drivers and resolution. Analyses will include microfossils and macrofossils across all trophic levels, geochemical and molecular indicators and driver data (WP2). 

(iii) Combine results from (i) and (ii) to (a) quantify trajectories and rates of recoveries; (b) identify the most influential and fastest/slowest responding biotic groups; (c) determine which feedback loops are likely to maintain each state; (d) compare composition and resilience of the recovered ecosystem to the system prior to impact; (e) estimate the impact of recovery mode (linear, stepwise, or hysteretic) on the new ecosystem structure (WP1&2).

You should have a PhD* or equivalent professional qualifications and experience in freshwater palaeoecology.

The post holder will work with both Prof. Pete Langdon (SoGES) and Prof. Helen Bennion (UCL) across WP1 and 2. Additionally, they will contribute data, and collaborate with the modelling team (and PDRA 2 – WP3), who will be led by Prof. Simon Willcock (Rothamsted) and include Prof. Patrick Doncaster (School of Biological Sciences [SoBS] Southampton), Prof. John Dearing (SoGES) and Dr Greg Cooper (Sheffield). The post holder will benefit from the early-career support opportunities available across both Schools in Southampton, with additional support and input from project colleagues at other institutions. In addition, they will be part of the wider team, including experts working on a range of different palaeoecological techniques (notably pigments – Dr. Virginia Panizzo, Nottingham and Prof. Suzanne McGowan, Netherlands Institute of Ecology; sedimentary ancient DNA – Dr. Jan Janouškovec, SoBS), and statistical techniques (Dr. Roseanna Mayfield, Newcastle and Dr Rong Wang, NIGLAS, China).   

The University of Southampton is in the top 1% of world Universities and one of the UK’s top 10 research-intensive universities. We have an international reputation for research, teaching and enterprise activities. The University is committed to fostering a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion. Recruitment will follow prescribed anti-discriminatory and equal opportunities protocols, including gender balance, and we particularly encourage applications from candidates belonging to groups who are under-represented within academic posts at the University, including, but not limited to: people from Black and minority ethnic groups; and those with visible or invisible disabilities. This grant will also adopt a family-friendly philosophy for all participants of any gender, in order to support their professional careers. We are a Disability Confident employer, and SoGES holds a bronze Athena SWAN award, while SoBS holds a silver. We are a signatory to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and can provide opportunities for career development and mentoring.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion | University of Southampton

For further information on the different research groups related to this position, please see: 

For further enquiries please contact Prof. Pete Langdon ( or Prof. Helen Bennion (

*Applications for Research Fellow positions will be considered from candidates who are working towards or nearing completion of a relevant PhD qualification. The title of Research Fellow will be applied upon successful completion of the PhD. Prior to the qualification being awarded the title of Senior Research Assistant will be given.

What we can offer you

As part of our commitment to your wellbeing, we offer an occupational pension scheme and generous holidays. Staff also have access to our state-of-the-art on-campus sports, arts, and culture facilities and access to a number of University employee-discount schemes.