PhD opportunuty: Effects of ocean acidification and global warming on biotic interactions in shallow-water marine environments

Institution: Aberystwyth University
Dept/School/Faculty: Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences
PhD Supervisor: Dr P Moore
Co-Supervisor: Dr D Gwynn-Jones
Application Deadline: 3 May 2011

Ocean acidification and global warming are considered two of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems. There is still little understanding of the combined impacts of these stressors on the physiology and ecology of marine organisms or on the processes that structure marine ecosystems. Moving beyond single-species approaches, this PhD project will uniquely determine the combined impacts of these factors on biotic interactions and processes that influence the structure and functioning of shallow-water temperate ecosystems.

The successful PhD student will undertake a series of integrated multi-factorial experimental manipulations of temperature and CO2 within the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences’ (IBERS) recently refurbished and modernised aquarium facility. In addition to determining the impacts of environmental change on the strength and/or direction of biotic interactions (e.g. competitive interactions, predator-prey & plant-herbivore dynamics, multi-trophic interactions), the studentship will also determine the direct effects of environmental change on the ecology and physiology of a range of important benthic habitat providers (e.g. seagrass, macroalgae) and key benthic organisms (e.g. grazers, predators). Outcomes from this research will be feed into projects funded through the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme.

The student will receive excellent training in ecological experimental design and analysis, experimental manipulation of temperature and CO2 and in undertaking standard ecophysiological and ecological measurements e.g. use of Pulse-amplitude Modulated Fluorometry (Walz) to measure photosynthetic performance, standard protocols for determining the concentration of secondary metabolites, nutrient concentration, growth and reproductive success in plants and animals. The project will involve some intertidal and shallow subtidal (on snorkel) fieldwork to enable collection of experimental organisms. There is considerable scope for the successful student to develop the direction in which this project will evolve. The research group has strong national and international collaborations with colleagues working in similar areas and there will be scope for the student to undertake collaborative experiments with researchers both within IBERS and externally.

Funding Notes:

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a First Class or 2.1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Informal enquires from prospective candidates are welcomed (Dr Pippa Moore; 01970 622293), More information.

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