About the Project
Scaling the results from small scale experimental studies on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning to large landscape scale impacts of biodiversity loss for the provision of ecosystem services remains a major challenge in ecology. Many studies employ species richness as a measure of biodiversity, but largely ignore the way that species interact, in particular who eats whom. We are seeking a highly motivated PhD candidate to join a large scale consortium project that will examine ecosystem service flows across spatial scales in soft sediment marine systems. The CBESS project involves partners at the Universities of Bangor, Cambridge, Essex, Southampton, and St. Andrews, and will simultaneously quantify biodiversity and ecosystem services across a gradient of spatial scales.
In particular, the successful PhD candidate will quantify the feeding interactions among soft sediment invertebrates, fish, and birds to produce food web and community descriptions underpinning an exploration of the scaling relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem services. The aim of the PhD will be to develop a database of predator-prey interactions based on published literature and gut content analysis in the present consortium study. The database will then be used to define food webs for the systems under study. The consequences of direct and indirect effects for the functioning of these soft sediment systems will then be explored at a hierarchy of scales. Broadly, the food web patterns that emerge will be explored and related to the ecosystem service flows documented in the wider project.
We propose a challenging PhD project that will explore how communities are structured in terms of who eats whom. This PhD project will mainly be based at Queen’s University Belfast although the candidate will be expected to work for periods of time at CEH Lancaster (Morcambe Bay) and University of Essex. Ultimately the species identity, body mass, and diet data will be used develop a food web data base of relevance to all UK coastlines.
For more information on the broader CBESS project see the following links:
For an application form and full details on how to apply, please visit https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php. APPLICANTS SHOULD ALSO SEND A COMPLETED APPLICATION FORM, CV AND A COVERING LETTER INCLUDING A ONE PAGE A4 SHEET ANSWERING THE FOLLOWING TWO QUESTIONS:
(a) Why this PhD?
(b) Where would you take this project?
Applications should be sent to Mr Peter Millar, Medical Biology Centre, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, County Antrim, Northern Ireland or via email to [Email Address Removed].
Applicants should be highly motivated, intellectually inquisitive and hard-working individuals with a minimum of a first class or upper second class degree in Marine Biology or Biology-based bachelor degree.
Masters qualification will be welcomed. Preference will be given to candidates with some experience with the investigation of the relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and food webs. It is considered advantageous, but not essential, for candidates to have some familiarity with marine ecosystems, data base management and mathematical modelling. A full and clean driver’s license is essential.
The studentship will have a three year duration and will cover full-time UK/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £13,590 per annum for UK domiciled applicants. An award to an applicant domiciled in the European Community and from outside the UK covers only the cost of fees. The position is open to all applicants, although candidates not domiciled in the EU are required to pay the difference between UK/EU and overseas tuition fees (approximately £9,450 per annum). See http://www.delni.gov.uk/index/further-and-higher-education/higher-education/studentfinance/he-student-info-postgrad-finance.htm for further details on eligibility and funding.
O'Gorman, E.J. & Emmerson, M.C. (2010). Manipulating interaction strengths and the consequences for trivariate patterns in a marine food web. Advances in Ecological Research, 42. DOI: 10.1016/S0065-2504(10)42006-1.
O'Gorman, E.J. & Emmerson, M.C. (2009). Perturbations to trophic interactions and the stability of complex food webs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 106: 13393-13398.
Solan, M., Aspden, R.J. & Paterson, D.M. (2012). Marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: Frameworks, methodologies, and integration. Oxford University Press. 256 pp.