PhD: The importance of the Biodiversity – Ecosystem Functioning (BEF) relationship for resilience and vulnerability of marine exploited fish populations to climate change and fisheries exploitation

Universität Hamburg, Germany, invites applications for a Research Associate for the project “MARine MAnagement and Ecosystem Dynamics under climate change [MARmaED]”. MARmaED is an international and interdisciplinary network that unifies specific and complementary competences in marine sciences from Norway, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and France to investigate how the cumulative stress from biodiversity loss, climate change and harvesting will affect Europe’s complex marine systems and the consequences for optimal resource management.

The project’s main aim is to investigate how combined anthropogenic and climatic changes affect different harvested ecosystems (terrestrial, freshwater, and marine – particularly, but not only, in Arctic regions) and how management strategies can be improved to ensure sustainable exploitation and resilience. MARmaED will provide salary for 15 PhD projects.

The specific PhD project of this position will investigate “The importance of the Biodiversity – Ecosystem Functioning (BEF) relationship for resilience and vulnerability of marine exploited fish populations to climate change and fisheries exploitation.” According to theory high levels of biodiversity positively affect important ecosystem functions such as production, trophic interactions and elemental cycling. Stability in the provision of these ecosystem functions may maintain resilience and hence low vulnerability of marine populations to the effects of climate change and fisheries exploitation. Biodiversity will hence regulate or mediate the importance of external drivers and eventually determine the ecosystem services that humanity needs for their well-being.

The project will explore (1) the existence of the theoretical biodiversity (taxonomic and functional) ecosystem functioning (BEF) relationship, (2) how variability in the BEF relationship is related to resilience/vulnerability of fish populations, and (3) how climate change and exploitation affect the relationship between biodiversity and fish populations. Modern statistical techniques such as Generalised Linear and Additive Mixed Modelling (GLM, GAM) as well as Hierarchical Multi-Level Modelling (HMLM) approaches will be applied to case studies for marine systems with different and contrasting species richness levels. Candidate systems are the Central Baltic Sea (species poor), the North Sea (species rich) and the Barents Sea (species poor).

During the course of the PhD project, the candidate will have three mandatory secondments: 1) In Denmark at the National Institute of Aquatic Resources-Technical University of Denmark (DTU Aqua) to work on time-series modelling techniques; 2) in Finland at the Åbo Akademi University to work on functional diversity measurements, and 3) at the World Wide Fund for Nature in Hamburg to work on the science-policy interface.

A university degree in a relevant subject. Candidates for these fellowships must fulfill the requirements of eligibility dictated by the European Union. Specifically the candidate should not have been resident in the host country (i.e. Germany) for more than 12 months during the last 36 months before the start of the PhD project. In addition, the candidate cannot have research experience longer than 4 years.

We seek a candidate with a background in marine ecology/fisheries ecology and strong numerical skills and interests, specifically in statistical modelling using the statistical analysis and programming language R. The purpose of the fellowship is research training leading to the successful completion of a PhD degree.

Application deadline: 15 October 2015

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