PhD position at University of Strathclyde: Mathematical and statistical modelling of the spread and establishment of non-native species into UK marine waters

Non-native species are a significant threat to native wildlife and populations of various species have established themselves in UK marine waters. Increasing temperatures due to global warming have increased the number of potential species that can invade. The American comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi was introduced via ballast waters into the Black Sea during the 1980s. Due to the lack of natural predators, the population grew explosively, devastating the ecosystem within a few years. M. leidyi then spread into the Mediterranean Sea, and has recently been found in the English Channel and southern North Sea. This project will contribute to the EU-funded MEMO project, which aims to fill knowledge gaps related to the potential impact of M. leidyi in this region. In particular, life history data for M. leidyi will be collected to parameterise and improve a particle tracking Individual Behaviour Model, using maximum likelihood and Bayesian techniques as appropriate for the collected data. The model uses a semi-analytical Lagrangian tracer advection method and is linked to the General Estuarine Transport Model (GETM, GETM is a finite difference model that solves the shallow water equations and the density and heat balance in three dimensions. The student will review and apply these mathematical methods, developing them further to improve and extend the current models. Methods will also be developed to link the results to environmental information from e.g. coupled hydrodynamical and biogeochemical models and GIS data bases to assess potential impacts on the environment and human activities. The model will also be run to test potential solutions to counteract jelly comb impacts.

The project will be based in the Population Modelling and Epidemiology Group within the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and will be supervised by Dr Louise Kelly and Dr Douglas Speirs. It is an EPSRC-funded  Industrial  Case studentship and the industrial partner is the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) where the supervisors will be Dr Johan van der Molen and Dr Sophie Pitois.  The student will also be expected to spend some time each year working at Cefas in Lowestoft, Suffolk.

Deadline: 31st December 2011

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