PhD Studentship: Modelling climate change impacts on seabirds via ocean and forage fish dynamics
Britain’s seabirds have declined over the last three decades, and the species that have declined most are those dependent on small, nutrient-rich forage fish like sandeels. These fish occupy a critical point in marine food webs, vulnerable to both “top down” effects (e.g. fishing) and “bottom up” climate impacts via local ocean physics and plankton productivity. Concern over human impacts on sandeels and their predators have led to fishery closures and the creation of special Marine Protected Areas and Marine Conservation Zones, but where does climate change come into this story? Are current hotspots of sandeel and seabird productivity in British waters, the sites one would naturally focus on protecting, still going to be the hotspots fifty years from now? Are recent short-term trends a reliable guide to long-term future change?
This studentship will address these questions by linking together state-of-the-art dynamical simulations describing regional oceanography, plankton ecology, and sandeel life history, along with spatially explicit data on seabird numbers and trends. This project thus integrates many disciplines including physical oceanography, data science, marine ecology, and life-history theory.
Excellent mathematical and programming skills are required, and a background in either oceanography or ecology is preferred. The project will be co-supervised by Dr Neil Banas, an ocean modeller in the Dept of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow UK (http://neilbanas.com/projects/); Dr Ruedi Nager, a seabird ecologist in the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health, and Comparative Medicine at University of Glasgow (http://www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/bahcm/staff/ruedinager/); and Dr Peter Wright, a fish biologist and head of the Ecology and Conservation group at Marine Scotland Science, Aberdeen (http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/science/Researchers/PeterWright). The student will be registered jointly at Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities–a rare, highly interdisciplinary opportunity–and participate in the MASTS (Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland) research network.
The position is open to all UK and EU applicants and comes with three years of full support, including fees and an annual living stipend of approximately £14,000, as well as support for conference travel and other expenses. Start date is flexible, with winter 2016-17 preferred. Review of applications will begin 15 Sept 2016 and continue until the position is filled. To apply, send 1) a complete CV, 2) a 1-2 page personal statement explaining your specific interest in this position and the skills you bring to it, and 3) names and contact info for three references. Please send applications and other inquiries to Dr Neil Banas, firstname.lastname@example.org.