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Logo: University of the Highlands and Islands Inverness CollegeMasters by Research Studentship Opportunity

Rivers and Lochs Institute

Inverness College UHI


The Rivers and Lochs Institute (RLI), Inverness College UHI offers graduate studies and research opportunities in aquatic biodiversity management sector, and works closely with public agencies, NGOs and industry, to meet local research and training needs. The research is supported by the Institute’s new state-of-the-art applied genomics laboratory at the Inverness Campus. The RLI is currently inviting applications from appropriately qualified individuals for a 12 month, full time, fully funded Masters by Research studentship to be based in the Institute at Inverness College UHI on a project entitled, “Development of eDNA techniques for Slender naiad survey and monitoring”. The project is funded in collaboration with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the successful candidate will work closely with SNH for the duration of the project.


Slender naiad (Najas flexilis) is a submerged rooted macrophyte species protected under UK and international legislation. It occurs in deep water (typically > 1 m deep) and requires a snorkel survey to reliably find and record it. Monitoring is therefore a difficult task.


Environmental DNA (eDNA) research allows for the use of trace amounts of DNA shed or left behind by species to be used for detection of target species in an area. One promising application of eDNA is the detection of rare or difficult to detect species. The development of eDNA as a tool for monitoring, particularly in enclosed water such as lochs and ponds, offers the possibility of applying a more cost-effective monitoring method. This approach has been met with success in the conservation of other species, notably the great crested newt. The life-cycle and habitat occupied by slender naiad offers a potential means for applying the same method to this plant species.


In undertaking the research project, the student will:

  • Review the availability of suitable tools for using eDNA on slender naiad
  • Develop suitable tools for detecting slender naiad using eDNA
  • Test the efficacy of the eDNA tool(s) on a selection of water samples taken from lochs with and without slender naiad
  • Scope the potential for the tools through survey of selected lochs for slender naiad
  • Produce a published summary of the research for practitioners including guidance on sample collection


The successful applicant will be supervised by Dr. Barbara Morrissey and Dr. Melanie Smith (Rivers and Lochs Institute, Inverness College UHI) and Dr Iain Sime (Scottish Natural Heritage). Interviews will be held on the 20th March 2017. The studentship is expected to start on 24th April 2017.



Studentships include a stipend for 1 year (£13,500) and full UK/EU UHI tuition fees (£4,052/yr). Applications will be accepted from International students providing they can meet the difference between UK/EU and International Tuition fees from their own resources for the duration of study. If the difference cannot be met, please DO NOT APPLY.


Informal enquiries about this opportunity may be made to Melanie Smith (Melanie.Smith.ic@uhi.ac.uk)

Logo: University of the Highlands and IslandsFor further details and information about these studentships and how to apply click here 


Closing date for applications: 3rd March 2017

Interviews will be held on: 20th March 2017