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Integrating broad and local-scale remote sensing to examine links between the coastal light environment and biological communities

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  • Full or part time
    Prof D Schiel
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

About This PhD Project

Project Description

THE UNIVERSITY OF CANTERBURY AND THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF WATER AND ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH are offering a PhD scholarship in a joint project that seeks to integrate broad and local-scale effects on the coastal light environment and primary productivity of benthic macroalgae. This project will make use of remotely sensed imagery (drones, fixed-wing aircraft, satellites), in situ optical sensors and physiological data of primary productivity to model carbon fixation across depth and impact gradients. This project is part of a programme seeking to understand the wider effects of the Mw7.8 Kaikoura earthquake, which uplifted 120 km of coastline in Nov 2016, and the recovery dynamics of nearshore benthic communities. It also fits within a remote sensing programme on productivity in nearshore waters.

Skills required:
The successful candidate must have an interest in and knowledge of the interaction of light with the physical and biological environment, and in the factors affecting the ecology of benthic primary producers. The candidate should have a track record in coastal physics or ecology, ecological modelling, mathematical analysis or statistical methods. It would be advantageous to have some experience in one or more of:
• working with satellite data (e.g. MODIS, SPOT, WorldView, Landsat);
• manipulating spatial data sets (e.g. using netCDF files, or GIS-files);
• using spatial-data software (such as Esri’s ArcMAP and ArcPRO; MatLAB; IDL/ENVI, Python);
• statistical analysis (e.g. statistical analysis in R or Python);
• experience with aerial remote-sensing methods and imagery (e.g. drones, orthomosaics);
• knowledge of point-clouds (e.g., generated from LiDAR or multibeam echo-sounding); and
• knowledge of the physics of underwater light (e.g. radiative transfer, bio-optics).
It is anticipated that the successful student will make use of a wide range of coastal data to generate models on benthic primary productivity, limits of tolerance or resilience with respect to the light environment, and use forecasting techniques to examine future scenarios of change. Candidates should have a BSc Honours, Master’s degree or equivalent, with excellent grades, appropriate research experience, and be motivated to work in a cross-disciplinary field and interact with scientists in the wider programme.

The scholarship:
The successful candidate will work between campuses of the University and NIWA, but will be mostly situated in the NIWA research centre in Christchurch. The candidate will work within the Marine Ecology Research Group of Canterbury University. The stipend is NZ$21,000 (tax-free) + fees for a period of three years.

Initial contact outlining your background, interests and (unofficial) academic record should be to Drs Leigh Tait ([Email Address Removed]), Matt Pinkerton ([Email Address Removed]) or Professor David Schiel ([Email Address Removed]).

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