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Balancing commercial seed mussel harvest and shorebird conservation

   Research and Enterprise Office

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  Dr Penny Dowdney  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship funded by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS 2) scheme intended to start January 2017. The project will be based in the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University.

Project details:

Mussels remain the most significant shellfish culture in the UK both in terms value and tonnage, and Wales is responsible for the vast majority of mussel production. Wild mussel seed, which is essential for mussel production in the Menai Strait, is mainly sourced in Morecambe Bay. This area is therefore of high socio-economic importance to Welsh businesses. However, shorebirds also depend on these extensive estuaries for food. Eider ducks and oystercatchers in particular rely largely on shellfish (blue mussel Mytilus edulis, and cockle Cerastoderma edule) for survival and maintaining good body condition outside the breeding season. Ultimately, this has led to a long-standing conflict between conservation and commercial interests within these coastal areas. Significant advances have been made in understanding the energy requirements of wintering shorebirds in other areas, and the mussel biomass necessary for them to maintain fitness. However, with growing interest in seed mussel harvest and farming, there is a need to expand these individual-based models in order to account for mussel recruitment from seed and survival until maturity as well as adapt the models to be applied not only to oystercatchers but also to eider ducks and red knot.

The studentship will involve:
- Designing methods for data collection on shorebird abundance, distribution, foraging strategies and prey preference as well as mussel recruitment, abundance, distribution and demography
- Extensive periods in the field collecting data to realize the models
- Working closely with the project business partner
- Analyzing the data which will involve the use of individual-based models
- Writing up results for publication
- Dissemination of the results at conferences

The studentship will provide critical information towards implementation of an ecosystem-based approach to fishery management.

The studentship is fully-funded providing a stipend of ~£14,200 per annum plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for up to 3 years, and is intended to start in January 2017.

Selection Criteria:

- Hold at least a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in Marine Biology, Ecology, Conservation or a related field
- Have relevant field experience in studying shorebirds and/or benthic invertebrates
- A willingness to spend extensive periods conducting boat and land-based field work including sampling mussels and carrying out detailed observations of shorebirds
- Have skills and experience in analyzing or modelling ecological data (ideally using R)
- Have demonstrated excellent written and oral communication skills
- Competence in using appropriate software and platforms
- Have an interest in statistical modelling
- Have initiative, self-motivation, and ability to effectively manage own time and undertake independent research activity
- Excellent inter-personal skills with ability and commitment to work effectively as part of a collaborative team
- Ability to establish strong collaboration with the business partner

- Hold at least a MSc, with distinction, in a relevant field
- Have experience of working as part of a multidisciplinary team as well as working with industry/business
- Have experience working on boats
- Have experience of publishing primary scientific research in relevant discipline

General information about the School of Ocean Sciences can be found at:

For informal enquiries about the project, please contact Dr Line Cordes ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr Jan Hiddink ([Email Address Removed]).

How to apply:

Candidates must submit the following :

1. A CV summarising your relevant experience and skills

2. A one-page cover letter describing your reasons for wishing to undertake the PhD project and the personal qualities that you will bring

3. A no more than 500 word scientific summary including a single figure with caption about an independent research project you have conducted or are currently involved in

Please quote the following reference on all correspondence when applying: BUK283

Please submit to both Dr Line Cordes : [Email Address Removed]; and to Dr Penny Dowdney : [Email Address Removed]

Only applications made online before 12:00 on the 30th. Sep 2016 will be considered.

Funding Notes

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.

Eligibility notes: Must be resident in the convergence area of Wales (West Wales and the Valleys) on registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.

For further details about the KESS 2 funding, please contact Dr Penny Dowdney: [Email Address Removed]
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