University of Plymouth

PhD Opportunity - Understanding juvenile habitat requirements and connectivity of fisheries populations under climate change

Paul Coulson | June 25th 2022

Project Description
Early life-stages of many commercially-important fish populations depend critically on shallow, inshore ‘nursery’ areas which are threatened by human activities. Under climate change, identifying vital nurseries for conservation presents a moving target due to species range shifts. Improved understanding of current and future habitat needs as well as ‘landscape permeability’ (scope for dispersal and gene flow) are therefore needed if we are to anticipate fisheries consequences of climate change. To build this understanding, this PhD will investigate habitat use and fine-scale population structure of juvenile sea bass: an iconic, transnational fishery that has been heavily depleted by overfishing and habitat degradation.
The supervisory team bridges complementary strengths in migratory fish ecology, ecophysiology and genetics at University College Cork and University of Plymouth, two leading centres of marine research. The successful student will receive broad training in juvenile fish survey methods and biochemical growth indices to characterise individual growth in situ and pinpoint ‘habitat hotspots’ that critically support bass productivity. By developing expertise in both high-throughput genomic analysis (SNP array) and traditional fisheries techniques they will also resolve demography, local adaptation and gene-flow among habitats. Finally, the student will learn from experts in socioeconomics at the University of Plymouth and Cefas to deliver transnational, collaborative, adaptive solutions for managing fisheries in changing coastal landscapes.
Candidates with an aptitude for field work, a keen interest in the application of biochemical and genetic techniques to solve ecological questions and a degree in biological, environmental, marine or related science are encouraged to apply.
Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant Masters qualification.
The successful candidate will be awarded a studentship for 3 years which covers fees, stipend (non-taxable £16,062 per year – increasing in-line with UKRI) and funding to cover research costs (£1,500 per year). A discrete annual travel/collaboration budget between UCC-UoP will also be available.
NB: The studentship is supported for three years of the four-year registration period. The fourth year is a self-funded ‘writing-up’ year.
Applications are welcomed from UK, EU and Non-EU students. Please be advised that there are English language requirements in place which must be adhered to. Please note funding does not cover visa costs (including immigration health surcharge) or other additional costs associated with relocation to your place of study.
If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Benjamin Ciotti.
The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 3 July 2022. 
Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview before the 15 July. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a response within six weeks of the closing date should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.
Full details here