wetlands freshwater wildlife ecosystem 
PhD student: Natasha Underwood
Sponsor: Wessex Water
Supervisor: Professor Sean Comber

Benefits for the student

The scope of this PhD is looking at the biochemistry of the site, particularly phosphate levels in water and in soil. Wessex Water are funding the restoration of the wetland at Moorlinch. The hope is to improve the biodiversity for the site and the wildlife around it, if phosphate levels can be reduced and the carbon story of the site. I have been monitoring the water quality, soil quality, vegetation cover and freshwater invertebrate communities. We have been producing ideas of how we can try to reduce that contaminant on the site. We are looking at different types of native plants you can grow in a wetland landscape; so that we can measure the phosphate, nitrate and carbon levels they store within them.

The most positive thing about my PhD has been the support I get. I have not had this much support before as an individual researcher. Being able to have one-to-one sessions that I did not expect, but it has been extremely helpful. My first point of contact is my supervisors and that is all I have needed currently.

Natasha Underwood, PhD student


Benefits for the business

The findings of the PhD will inform wider work that Wessex Water and other organisations are undertaking to address elevated concentrations of nutrients in the Somerset Levels and Moors.

It is great working with University of Plymouth on this restoration of Moorlinch SSSI as we can see the influence of nutrients in wetland pools and scrapes, whether they are connected or not to the ditch systems. We hope to see less nutrients in the un-connected pools and the more sensitive species recolonise the site.

Sarah Williams, Biodiversity and Wetland Project Manager

Wessex water logo

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