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University of Sheffield Featured PhD Programmes

Understanding the ecology of the New Zealand black coral Antipathes fiordensis and its vulnerability to climate change


   School of Biological Sciences

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  Dr James Bell  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Wellington New Zealand Biodiversity Environmental Biology Marine Biology Molecular Biology Reproductive Biology Zoology

About the Project

We are looking for a dynamic, highly motivated person with excellent inter-personal skills (as you will spend time on small boats) to join the Temperate Mesophotic Ecology group at Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand. This project will focus on the ecology, resilience, and vulnerability of the endemic New Zealand black coral Antipathes fiordensis to climate change and other stressors. Unlike most black coral species A. fiordensis can be found in very shallow water (< 10m) in Fiordland New Zealand, which provides a unique opportunity to study the ecology of black corals. The successful PhD student will work within a newly established collaboration, which includes a group a of scientists, tourism operators and management agencies, who are interested in understanding the ongoing impacts of climate change on the unique Fiordland ecosystems in New Zealand. A. fiordensis is a protected and iconic species in New Zealand and this project aims to understand more about the population dynamics, climate change responses and population dynamics of this important habitat forming species. This information will then assist in the management and protection of this species and act as a model for other black coral species that occur in much deeper water. The exact nature of the project will be developed between the successful student and supervisor, meaning there is lots of scope for developing different areas of interest. For example, the project might include genetics, modelling, population surveys, trophic studies, or stressor experiments. 

Key attributes/skills/qualifications that are required: 1) Master’s degree or an equivalent standard (see important funding notes); 2) a minimum of a PADI Rescue Diver certificate with relevant diving experience (or equivalent – NO exceptions); 3) IELTS overall band of 6.5, no sub-score below 6 (or equivalent, see - https://www.victoria.ac.nz/fgr/prospective-phds/qualifications-required); 4) ability to work as part of a team; and 5) ability to work at remote locations. Experience of working on boats would also be an advantage.

Applications in the first instance should be made directly to Prof Bell by 17th December (or sooner) and include a cover letter outlining why you want the PhD position (really important), full CV, academic transcripts, an example of your scientific writing, and the names/contact details of two people who can act as academic references (there is no need to request any reference letters be sent at this initial stage). Interviews as needed will take place in early Jan.


Funding Notes

IMPORTANT NOTE: It will be necessary for the PhD student to secure stipend and fees funding, which can be sought from VUW. It is also important to note that PhD fees are the same for domestic and international students in NZ, so these scholarships are open to students from all countries. While we encourage applications from all interested individuals, the VUW PhD scholarship scheme is only likely to fund students with outstanding academic records. The next closing date for VUW scholarships is March 1st 2021 and assistance will be given in preparing for this deadline.
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