Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

New partnership on Steart Wetlands research project

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

WWT student

A new partnership between Oxford Brookes University, Bridgwater College, and the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) has been launched to enable them to work together to conduct research on the UK's largest new coastal wetland, being created at Steart, near Bridgwater.

A new partnership between Oxford Brookes University, Bridgwater College, and the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) has been launched to enable them to work together to conduct research on the UK's largest new coastal wetland, being created at Steart, near Bridgwater.

Adam George has been appointed as a PhD student to work across the three organisations whilst also teaching on the BSc (Hons) Animal Conservation programme at the College's Cannington Centre. Adam will be conducting research on how the starting states of saltmarsh and mudflats combined with the role of tides bringing in marine organisms, sediment and nutrients influences the nature of the establishing saltmarsh and mudflat communities. Understanding these processes will provide better guidance for habitat creation schemes elsewhere, for example in enhancing their ability to support wildfowl and commercially exploitable marine species. 

The research draws on the expertise of CEEC ( Centre for Ecology, Environment and Conservation: Oxford Brookes) and the  Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT). Adam will be supervised by Tim Shreeve and Bruce Riddoch (CEEC) and Tim McGrath (WWT).

The research project will also allow students at Bridgwater College studying for an Oxford Brookes degree to play an active part in the studies at Steart, as part of the ecological and research modules on their programme. The local community can also engage with the evaluation of the project outcomes, including participating in citizen science projects centred around the monitoring of flora and fauna at the site as well as engaging further with the role of wetlands for recreation and the local economy.

Adam said, "I am very excited to be working in collaboration with Oxford Brookes, Bridgwater College, and WWT on this project. Wetlands provide protection from flooding and offer temporary or enduring habitats for a diverse range of flora and fauna. Therefore, the aim of my research is to deliver valuable data that can facilitate the management of Steart Marshes and other wetland habitats. Working for Bridgwater College will provide me with the opportunity to involve students in this project, where they will learn valuable skills and contribute to this important area of research."

WWT Steart Marshes is designed to be a working wetland, rich in wildlife and supporting farming and protecting the local community from rising sea levels. WWT want reserves like Steart Marshes to demonstrate how creating wetlands can solve many of the problems we’re going to face in the future. This PhD will provide an important piece of evidence in making that case.