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Tracking the decline of salmon in the North Sea basin (SeaChanges ESR 5)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Orton
    Dr M Alexander
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The Department of Archaeology at the University of York has been awarded funding for an innovative programme of training and research with the universities of Groningen, Copenhagen, Bologna, Olso, Cambridge, and the Marine Research Institute of the Spanish National Research Council. The project “SeaChanges: thresholds in human exploitation of marine vertebrates” is funded by the European Commission under its Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. As part of the project the University of York is offering two fully-funded positions in marine zooarchaeology.

This vacancy offers a 3-year, fully-funded, salaried PhD position under the title “Tracking the decline of salmon in the North Sea basin” (ESR 5). You will be supervised by Dr. David Orton, co-supervised by Dr. Michelle Alexander, and will also work with network partners at the Universities of Groningen and Oslo. The project is supported by a dedicated programme of training workshops hosted across the seven network partners.

As an anadromous fish that migrates annually inland to spawn, Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is potentially subject to human impact both from fishing and from modification of freshwater systems. Recent historical research implicates damming and watermill construction in the collapse of salmon stocks around the North Sea basin, particularly the Rhine and Meuse systems. With relevant quantitative historical data rare prior to c.AD 1500, however, archaeological remains are necessary to assess this hypothesis further. Their contribution has so far been limited by (a) difficulty distinguishing salmon from brown trout (S. trutta) remains, and (b) the possibility that some remains
represent northern imports from e.g. Scotland rather than locally caught fish.

In this project you will explore the impact of the medieval agricultural revolution and subsequent intensification on salmon through a systematic review of archaeological finds around the North Sea basin, employing ZooMS collagen fingerprinting and geometric morphometrics (GMM) to refine identifications. Potential imports will be assessed via aDNA, working with partners in Oslo, and you will spend a secondment in Groningen accessing Dutch samples and data. Additional guidance on salmon ecology and contemporary
relevance will be provided by the Atlantic Salmon Trust, while you will work closely with ESR 6 (Copenhagen) to understand
wider ecosystems.

Funding Notes

This project is fully funded by the EU, including a competitive salary, and is open to students from anywhere in the world. To be eligible you must, at 1 October 2019:

1. Be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience, not including taught degrees) of your research career and not have been awarded a doctoral degree.

2. Not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the UK for more than 12 months in the preceding 3 years. Short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.

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