Post-fire dunefield ecological recovery PhD

Entry requirements:
3.5 years
not available
Reference number:
Start date:
01 October 2018
Is funding available?
UK/EU fees:
International fees:
Application deadline:
22 January 2018



of research classed as 'internationally recgonised'

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Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. 

Project detail

Dunefields cover 20% of the world’s drylands and hence are an important and significant component of semi-arid and arid landscapes.  Many dunefields in the sub-tropics have a partial vegetation cover that contributes to stabilization of the dune forms.  This vegetation can be rapidly removed or damaged by fire or grazing pressure.  A positive feedback model for processes leading to post-fire increased dune activity, destabilization and potential dust emissions has been proposed to explain why the effects of fire on dune ecology can persist for decades (Strong et al. 2010), but has not yet been tested.  This PhD project will use satellite remote sensing data to identify the timing and extent of vegetation removal and rates of dune vegetation recover in linear dunefields, principally the southwest Kalahari, southern Africa.  It will improve understanding of the impact of fire on dunefield activity, dust emissions and ecological succession, including determining long-term impacts on burn sites.  An important variable that may also affect both fire impacts and vegetation recover is large-scale climate oscillation.  The successful applicant will map and determine the age of fire-footprints and use sequential satellite imagery to determine the rate of vegetation re-establishment and any geomorphological changes.  Long-term climate data sets will be used to understand fire occurrence and vegetation recovery rates.

Strong, C.L., Bullard, J.E., Dubois, C., McTainsh, G.H., Baddock, M.C. 2010. Impact of wildfire on interdune ecology and sediments: an example from the Simpson Desert, Australia.  Journal of Arid 


Primary supervisor: Dr Matthew Baddock

Secondary supervisor: Prof Joanna Bullard

Find out more

For further project details email Dr Matthew Baddock or register your interest and ask us a question.

To find out more about postgraduate research in the department of Geography please visit our website.

For further information on this project, please see the main CENTA website.

Entry requirements

The successful student will have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) and/or a relevant Master’s degree in one or more of the following: Geography, Remote Sensing, Geographical Information Systems, Ecology or a related subject.

All students must also meet the minimum English Language requirements.

Fees and funding


Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Special arrangements are made for payments by part-time students.

The studentship is for 3.5 years and is intended to start in October 2018. The studentship provides a tax free stipend of £14,553 per annum (in 2017/18) for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate (£4,195 in 2017/18) and a research training support grant of £8,000.  Please note that due to restrictions imposed by the funder only students with a UK/EU fee status will be considered for this position. Further guidance about eligibility is available at RCUK Terms & Conditions.

How to apply

To apply, you will need to;

  1. Complete a CENTA studentship application form in Word format available here.
  2. All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select “Geography”. During the online application process, upload the CENTA studentship application form as a supporting document.
  3. Please quote CENTA17-LU6 when completing your online application.

Application details

Reference number: CENTA17-LU6
Application deadline: 22 January 2018
Start date: 01 October 2018
Interview date: Week beginning 12 February 2018