PhD opportunity: Predicting the Implications of Changes in Migration Phenology for the Conservation of Atlantic Salmon

Bournemouth University ( and The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust ( are recruiting a high calibre PhD researcher to work on a three year fully funded studentship investigating changes in the migrations of Atlantic salmon in relation to factors including climate change, with an emphasis on how changes in smolt migrations are impacting survival to spawning adults.

The study will develop flexible multistate state-space mark-recapture models to quantify and then investigate correlates of Atlantic salmon marine survival using data collected on the river Frome, Dorset UK, with the intention of generalising findings to other rivers in Europe.

The successful candidate will have a strong numerical background and some knowledge of salmonids.

Although the student will be registered at Bournemouth University, they will spend up to 2/3 of their time at the FBA River Laboratory in rural Dorset:

Deadline: 11th March 2018

Entry requirements: A 1st class honours degree and/or a relevant Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent


(This PhD opportunity is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Channel VA Programme and is part of project SAMARCH (

PHSG 2nd Annual Conference: Poole Harbour Environment and Econmics

PHSG Marine Protected Areas Conference 2017

‘Poole Harbour provides both for a diverse ecology and a productive maritime economy. The Harbour is exceptional in the extent to which it illustrates the interface between environment and economics in the coastal zones of North West Europe. Positioned at the eastern end of the “Jurassic Coast” World Heritage Site, the entire Harbour has various conservation designations while at the same time providing for commercial shipping, motor yacht manufacture, fishing & aquaculture, tourism, a military base, and a range of other significant maritime industries. It also lies over an oil field, receives effluent from both a large conurbation and an agricultural catchment, and supports a variety of recreational activities, not least sailing and angling. These features along with the intensity with which they interact make Poole Harbour a powerful case study for the elucidation of sustainable development in practice.

Thirteen years ago the Poole Harbour Study Group held a conference which resulted in the book The Ecology of Poole Harbour. This 2018 conference aims to expand the scope of that and last year’s Marine Protected Areas conference, by examining the relationship between the environment and the economy which it supports.

The conference is part of the Poole Maritime Festival and among the events during the day Borough of Poole council will present key findings from their forthcoming marine supply chain mapping report.

Presentations (15 minutes), mini-presentations (3 minutes) and posters may examine any aspect of the Harbour environment and/or its maritime economy. Particularly welcome are contributions which engage with the interactions between the two, whether from business, policy, or conservation perspectives. Presentations may also cover aspects of the river catchment or Poole Bay which have direct implications for the Harbour itself. Contributions subsequently written up will be published in proceedings

For further general information please contact the Conference Secretary Dr Alice Hall

To submit, a presentation or poster proposal, please send a 50 word summary to PHSG Chair, John Humphreys (email, who would also be happy to provide advice on any early stage presentation idea.

Poole Harbour Study Group has been encouraging and disseminating objective research on Poole Harbour for over twenty-five years. Members include all the main statutory organisations along with universities, NGOs and commercial enterprises.’

(Environment Agency, Dorset Wildlife Trust, IFCA, Phc)  

Foundation walls are in place

Over the last couple of weeks, local workers in Kenya have been busy completing the new foundation walls in preparation for the toilet structure. This include tonnes or material being moved and flattening to create a level surface suitable to withstand the two tier shipping container unit and 5000l+ water tanks. Ensuring that the surrounding walls are secure is integral to the whole structure, not only for the functionality but also to make the toilets a safe environment for the students and teachers within the community to use. Now that this stage has been completed, work can now begin on building foundations of the toilet structure itself.

3D Modelling of Toilet Structure

The images below showcase a few 3D model stills (using Sketchup) which were created by one of the eco-toilet team. The model highlights the scale of the project with different angles of the structure. This is the first idea of how the structure will look like once completed. The front of the unit will feature a mural themed around environmental conservation. Bournemouth University Research Associate Katie Thompson will lead this with the help of two undergraduate students.

Dig for…eco-toilets!

Over the last week (February 2018), the ‘Sustainable Green Toilet Project’ has begun in Kenya, where excavations have been completed and foundations are now being built. Bournemouth University Research Associate Katie Thompson from the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences (SciTech) is working alongside ACEF (Akamba Children’s Education Fund) charity volunteers and BU students to build the new toilet facility for 800 school children who attend and live at the Brainhouse Academy, in Nairobi, Kenya.

The newer, cleaner toilet facilities will feature a bio digester energy recovery system producing biogas for the school and liquid fertiliser. Innovative research will also be investigated into at this location, including utilising energy from microbial life forms to generate electricity. Katie and the students will be travelling to Kenya in March this year to continue to work on the project.

If you would like to know more about the project and keep up to date with any progress, then contact Katie Thompson on or Genoveva Esteban



Toilet plans are ready!

Bournemouth University Research Associate Katie Thompson joined a group of volunteers in April 2017 to initiate a Sustainable Green Toilet Project in Kenya, with the charity ACEF. The aim of this project is to build a new toilet facility for 800 school children (including over 100 orphans) who attend and live at the Brainhouse Academy, a school situated in one of the world’s largest slums (Mathare North) in Nairobi, Kenya.

As well as replacing the existing toilets with newer, cleaner toilet facilities which are equipped with hand washing facilities and lighting, these ‘green’ toilets will also feature an energy recovery system which will produce biogas: a clean and renewable gas which can be safely used for cooking and lighting the school.

This project will deliver multiple benefits including improved sanitation and treatment of toilet wastes to protect the local environment and reduce the risk of children catching deadly diseases, while producing a biogas which will be used in the school’s kitchen to replace the wood and charcoal fires. The project will act as a beacon of sustainable technology within the slum which could be replicated to improve the lives of thousands.

The planning and development stages have begun, with the aim of constructing the toilets early 2018, where BU Research Associate Katie Thompson continues to be involved in. If you would like to know more about the project and keep up to date with any advances then contact Katie Thompson on or Genoveva Esteban

Sustainable Green Toilet Project Kenya

The development of a green toilet project is underway working where Bournemouth University students and staff are working with ACEF (Akamba Children Education Fund), which supports 1000 children that attend the Brainhouse Academy situated in Mathare North, Kenya – one of the world’s largest slums. The school was established by the local community in 2003 to help educate street children, vulnerable children and children of families who could not afford the cost of education. The project is working towards making the school more sustainable and self sufficient. The charity has been volunteering with the Brainhouse Academy for 7 years and continue to strive in making the school the best we can make it for the children and the staff that devote their time.

Any questions, please contact Katie Thompson directly on

Scroll down to find out more about the project developments from the project manager James Cooper…

Home made cooking stove from a coffee tin!

Published on 30/07/2017 by James Cooper

Project manager James Cooper has been busy building prototypes and recently reached a milestone, producing a stove from a coffee container with biogas. showing that it is now producing flammable gas!

Thermometer reading on BD2 after greenhouse construction

Published on 16/07/2017 by James Cooper

The greenhouse seems to have done the trick. 34.3 degrees in Bio-Digester 2! Perfect!

BD2 also produced some gas today for the first time. Not enough to really test if it’s methane, but it’s encouraging and hopefully produces more tomorrow. Once I’m certain I’ve got flammable gas, I’ll know the acid-eating bugs that produce the methane (methanogens) are growing well and can control the pH. Then I can start adding food waste to ramp up the gas production.BD1 also looks like it’s returned from the dead after suffering from leaky seals for weeks and then going acid. The pH levels are back to normal, the seals are holding and there’s gas slowly bubbling from the pipes. It’s been a good day in the Biogas Stories.

Thermometer check and greenhouse implementation

Published on 13/07/2017 by James Cooper

Trying out this aquarium thermometer on (BD2) reading of 22.5 degrees. Not bad, but not enough. The anaerobic bacteria in this system are used to living in the gut of an animal, so they like pretty warm conditions.

Ideally, I’d operate BD2 in the ‘thermophilic’ temperature range, which is above 45 degrees celsius, but this would require another heat source. So instead I’m aiming for the ‘mesophilic’ temperature range of 25-40 degrees celsius. It should get there on warm sunny days, but we don’t get too many of those in the UK.

8 poles from an old tent, 4 bamboo canes, 2 plastic tubes from a broken football goal, 1 roll of duck tape, some plastic sheeting, a couple of hours of playing around, and one cup of tea.

DIY greenhouse…done!

Biodigester 2 complete (BD2)

Published on 18/06/2017

This anaerobic digester is made from a 100 litre water butt. It’s about 5 times bigger than BD1, so in theory it should take about 5 times as much food waste each day (up to about 5 litres a day), and produce 5 times more biogas. The larger volume also makes the internal conditions more stable (temperature and pH) which is great for the bugs, and the 110mm diameter feed pipe is much easier to use.

I was a touch nervous about gluing on the lid, but the water level has held at the top of the effluent pipe for a few days now, so it’s looking good. That’s a win for No More Nails. The Uniseals securing the pipes are also working well.

The next step is to seed it, introduce the anaerobic bacteria needed to break down the food and produce biogas. I’m planning on using the fertiliser produced from BD1, as well as some small contributions from my dog!

Prototype biodigester number one (BD1)

Published on 09/06/2017 by James Cooper

The first attempt of an anaerobic digester! It’s a fixed, continuous digester with a floating gas storage system. The three containers were all found as rubbish, and most of the components were found rummaging around in my Dad’s garage. I sprayed the digester black so that it heats up better in the sun.

The digester works by breaking down organic waste (food waste in this case) in an environment with no oxygen. Anaerobic bacteria then turn the food waste into biogas (a flammable mix of methane and CO2) and a nutrient rich liquid fertiliser.

This digester was initially filled, or ‘seeded’, with a bucket load of horse manure. Not a pleasant task, but I had to get those anaerobic bugs from somewhere. I then dealt with many problems, mostly to do with leaking. I bought some new seals and had my first experience using a drill and holesaw to cut perfect circles into the digester for the pipes to fit into. Note to self, cut all holes before you fill the container with horse poo! Messy!

I’ve had only about a litre or two of gas so far – I suspect the rest has been leaking out of the seals – but that was pretty awesome anyway, to make fire from banana peels and apple cores. After the modifications last night to the seals, I’m hoping I’ve finally cracked it and it starts producing gas regularly.

I’ve got a few more improvements to make to this model, and I’ve started sourcing components for Biodigester 2.

Initial visit to Kenya, Mathare – April 2017

Published on 09/05/2017 by James Cooper

The purpose of our visit to Kenya last in April was to begin work on the Green toilets project. This project aims to design and build a new block of toilets for the Brianhouse academy school, a school located in the middle of a slum in Nairobi.

The current facilities are…not the best. They’re small, dark and smelly. Although this is an upgrade on the ‘flying’ toilets found elsewhere in the slum (you basically poo in a bag and fling it), a new toilet block will be great addition to the school.

However these green toilets will be no ordinary toilets. Our intention is to design a system where the waste falls into a biodigester, turning faeces into biogas. This gas can then be piped to a gas stove and used to cook on in the kitchen, rather than burning wood and coal.  This has massive environmental benefits and will save the school a lot of money, meaning they’ll be able to feed more children and buy more equipment for the school.

Dorset Coast Digital Archive

The Dorset Coast Digital Archive is an extensive archive, hosting a great diversity of photographs, newspaper articles, aerial images and historical maps of the Dorset coast as far back as 1740. This work is a centrepiece for knowledge exchange on how areas have developed over time through a visual representation. The archive promotes information and an understanding of how the Dorset coast has changed over time, including how the coastal morphology has evolved, how biodiversity has changed and how settlements and society have developed. The archive contains over 20,000 images, which have been grouped into the following original three categories.

Physical changes to the Coast

Dorset’s coastal and marine habitats include some of Britain’s rarest species, but also a wide range of more common species. Maritime heathlands, salt marsh, estuaries, cliffs and landslides, lagoons, rocky shores, sand beaches and dunes, submarine rock ledges and gravel banks together form a very diverse and productive ecosystem. Most of what we know comes from charts, divers and underwater photography.

Settlements and Society

Maps and estate plans in the archive record the growth of settlements on the coast from the sixteenth century onwards. Most large estates were established by the sixteenth century.  Medieval legal cases explain some of these patterns of growth. The sea’s presence affects the suitability of sites for occupation and development. Marine commerce and trade have been important throughout this coast’s history.

Managing the coast

Dorset’s marine and coastal environments are its principal environmental and economic assets.  The sea is used for tourism and recreation, fisheries, education, mineral extraction, transport and waste disposal. These all have impacts on Dorset’s marine environment.  With increasing pressure on the coast, management of Dorset’s marine resources is a constant challenge.

The main categories have been broken down into four further groups to enhance the accessibility of the images. The archive will promote information and an understanding of how the Dorset coast has changed over time, including how the coastal morphology has evolved, how biodiversity has changed, and how society and settlements have developed.

The collaboration with the Wessex Portal and Channel Coast Observatory has made it possible for this fantastic resource to be accessible online, available to a wider audience. The project has been led by the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences at Bournemouth University, and funded by the Valentine Charitable Trust. We hope that this archive will be a valuable tool for teaching and to the public’s viewing pleasure and personal research into their local past.

The full digital archive can now be found via the Channel Coast Observatory:

Any questions regarding the project can be addressed to Professor Genoveva Esteban or Research Assistant Katie Thompson

Pollinator Exchange “An information resource to help us support pollinators in our towns and cities”

Pollinator Exchange “An information resource to help us support pollinators in our towns and cities”

The Pollinator Exchange is a knowledge exchange portal created to provide people with an active interest in supporting pollinators in towns and cities with the information they need. It was developed at Bournemouth University as a reaction to two observations.

Firstly, as pollinators continue to decline in rural areas, there has been an increasing emphasis on the potential of towns, cities and other built-up areas to provide high-quality pollinator habitat. This interest has been fuelled by recent research that shows greater abundances of bumblebees, and higher production of wildflowers, in private gardens compared to traditional rural habitats.

Secondly, while knowledge about urban pollinators continues to emerge, it is not always shared with those who rely on it to make informed management decisions. A lack of access to scientific journals, for instance, can preclude valuable research from having a real impact on the ground.

It is our hope that the Pollinator Exchange will help facilitate communication and knowledge exchange between local councils, NGOs, private gardeners, scientists, ecological consultants and anyone else wanting to improve our towns and cities for the benefit of wild pollinators.

Find out more about the project here: Pollinator exchange 

SAMARCH (SAlmoid MAnagement Round the CHannel) team brave the cold to find and tag sea trout

On Tuesday 6th February, Bournemouth University Research Associate Katie Thompson from the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences (SciTech) joined the SAMARCH (Salmonid Management round the Channel) team in search of sea trout in the river Frome. The five year EU Interreg Channel Programme funded project (2017-2022) will track juvenile salmon and juvenile and adult sea trout through four English and French estuaries to fill the gaps in our knowledge of how quickly fish migrate through intertidal habitat, their migration pathways and where adult sea trout spend time at sea. Currently, 95% of our salmon and sea trout die at sea, compared to only 75% in the 1970s. The project aims to answer the question of what proportion of this mortality occurs in estuaries and coastal waters compared to the open sea by using small acoustic and data storage tags. The project includes 10 partners from France and England who are a blend of research and regulatory organisations, and key stakeholders (Bournemouth University, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, University of Exeter, INRA Science & Impact, Environment Agency, Salmon and Trout Conservation, Agro Campus, Agence française pour la biodiversité, Normandie grands migrateurs, Obersvatoire des poissons migrateurs Bretagne).
If you would like to know more about the project then you can follow online via:http://samarch.org or contact Katie Thompson on or Genoveva Esteban