Ecology and recovery potential of flame shells

The following opportunity is funded by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Full project title

  • Ecology and recovery potential of flame shells (L. hians) to disturbance

In the UK Limaria hians is found in the Scottish west coast sea lochs. Flame shells bind small stones into nests which can accumulate over time into biogenic reefs. The associated biodiversity is high and flame shell beds are classed as a priority marine feature (PMF) and are named in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. When beds are encountered during electrical cable route-planning this can lead to a need to significant delays and cost increases and potential re-routing.

However, rather little is known regarding L. hians ecology and its ability to recover from disturbance. Knowledge of recovery rates is currently based on a single scientific study although that was focussed on disturbance resulting from scallop dredging. It is unclear if mitigation for smaller-scale disturbance, such as resulting from cabling, could be successful. For example, the potential for temporary removal of nests during cable entrenching followed by reseeding after cable burial has not been investigated.

This PhD is aimed at improving basic ecological knowledge of flame shells as well as testing some potential mitigation options. The overall aim is to improve the scientific knowledge base with regard to the management of this important benthic species when encountered in renewable energy developments.

Other project collaborators include Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission – part of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN).

The project is expected to start 1 October 2018


Applicants must possess a minimum of an Honours degree at 2:1 and/or a Master’s Degree (or International equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding information

The studentship covers fees, plus a stipend at the RCUK level, for a total of 39 months (including writing-up).

Funding is available for students worldwide, however non UK/EU students will be liable for the difference between home/EU and international fees.  Click to view our current fees.

Students must be domiciled in the Highlands and Islands region during the course of their study to be eligible for funding. Students are expected to be based full-time at: The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) UHI.

Supervisory team

Dr. Clive Fox; SAMS UHI (Lead Academic)

Dr. Annika Clements; Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute NI (Co-supervision)

Dr John Howe (SAMS UHI).

Deadline for applications for this project is 5pm 22nd June 2018 (UK time).

Informal project specific enquiries can be made to: Dr Clive Fox,

This studentship is delivered through The Bryden Centre - a partnership of academic institutions and other stakeholders, supported by industry partners, delivering an exciting collaborative programme of advanced marine renewable energy and bio-energy research.