PhD position at University of Aberdeen: Warming ecosystems and smaller body sizes: is there evidence for temperature-induced changes in fish growth across the North Atlantic?

Declining body sizes have been proposed as a “universal” response to increasing temperatures and the physiology underpining this response is well understood for ectothermic species inhabiting aquatic environments. There is recent evidence that body size is declining for several commercial fish species in the North Sea. The aim of this studentship is to test whether a range of fish species occupying different ecoregions in the North Atlantic show synchronous trends in growth parameters that would be consistent with the magnitude and direction of regional temperature trends. Fishing mortality must also be considered as a potential factor influencing longterm trends.

The analysis will use time series for temperature and fishing mortality in combination with age and length data obtained from a number of research institutes in the North Atlantic. In addition to fitting basic growth models and testing for synchronicity in temporal trends, the cumulative impact on past, current and future yield will be examined.

The project allows development of transferable quantitative modelling skills, as well as building an in-depth knowledge of environmental and fishing effects on phenotypic diversity and fisheries databases. Applicants should have previous experience in statistical modelling with the analysis of spatial and temporal data being advantageous.

Deadline for application: 12th December 2011

Funding Notes:
Candidates must be eligible for UK/EU fee status and should hold a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree and/or a Masters degree or an equivalent qualification.PhD commences in October 2012.To apply, complete the application form (downloadable from and send it to along with a covering letter, an up-to-date CV and 2 academic references.

Send to Ms Dana Ho, School of Biological Sciences, Cruickshank Building, Aberdeen, AB24 3UU. E-mail is the preferred mode of application –


Baudron, A.R. et al. 2011. Implications of a warming North Sea for the growth of haddock Melanogrammus aeglefinus. J Fish Biol. 78: 1874–1889.
Brunel, T. and Dickey-Collas, M. 2010. Effects of temperature and population density on von Bertalanffy growth parameters in Atlantic herring: a macro-ecological analysis. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 405:15-28.
Gardner, J.L. et al. 2011. Declining body size: a third universal response to warming? TREE 26: 285-291

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