Phd research students from Aberdeen University surveying a quadrat in Glen Tilt ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

PhD research

To deepen our knowledge of the natural environment, Scottish Natural Heritage funds a number of PhD studentships to research certain themes.

A PhD studentship typically lasts for three years.

Ongoing studentships

Start Year 2019/2020

  • Validating environmental DNA as a powerful and cost-effective monitoring tool for declining, elusive and invasive mammals in the UK (SNH tutor: Rob Raynor)

Start Year 2018/2019

  • Predicting cascading ecosystem effects of beavers on riparian vegetation and deer (SNH tutor: Martin Gaywood)
  • Assessing MPA efficacy and adaptive management of the common skate: a surveillance package integrating population genomics, tagging and modelling to determine connectivity, abundance and recruitment (SNH tutor: David Donnan)

Start Year 2017/2018

  • Genomic Tools for Pearl Mussel Conservation (SNH tutor: Iain Sime)

Start year 2016/2017

  • Developing monitoring tools for data deficient conservation priority lichen and bryophyte species (SNH tutor: Dave Genney)
  • Using environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor rare fish populations (SNH tutor: Colin Bean)

Start year 2015/2016

  • Mapping ecosystem service supply, flows and demand on river networks draining from the uplands to the lowlands of Scotland (SNH tutor: Angus Tree)
  • Upland management to improve carbon sequestration and ecosystem health (SNH tutor: Andrew Coupar)

Start year 2014/2015

  • Recent responses of freshwater Scottish lochs to changes in nutrient loading and climate (SNH tutor: Iain Sime)
  • Linkages between riparian invasive plants, hydromorphology and salmonid fish in Scottish rivers (SNH tutor: Phil Boon)

Start year 2013/2014

  • Quantifying carbon losses at Feshie Mhoine Mhor (SNH tutor: Iain Sime)
  • Conservation of Scotland's rainforest epiphytes (SNH tutor: Dave Genney)
  • Translating small scale ecological studies into large scale agricultural practices: breeding waders and grassland management (SNH tutor: Des Thompson/Paul Robertson)

Start year 2012/2013

  • Assessing the impact of changing river flows on the distribution and spread of invasive riparian plants (SNH tutor: Phil Boon)
  • Ecology of non-native invasive species, the Norway or common rat Rattus norvegicus, on the Scottish island of Rum (SNH tutor: Andy Douse)
  • Species, habitat and service restoration after Rhododendron control (SNH tutor: Dave Genney/Jeanette Hall)