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PhD Studentship: Trait-based modelling of large crustacean zooplankton of the Arctic and Antarctic

Large crustacean zooplankton–copepods and euphausiids–are crucial links in high-latitude food webs. They are long-lived, and the interaction of their life histories with their environments constitute a strong filter lying between oceanographic patterns (temperature, transport, primary productivity) and the response of fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. This studentship will use cutting-edge trait- and optimality-based modelling methods to address fundamental questions regarding the ecology of these species: why does each life strategy occur where it does and not where it doesn’t? Why is the Southern Ocean not more similar to the Arctic Ocean and its fringing subarctic seas at this trophic level? Where are current populations of high-latitude copepods and euphausiids likely to be most sensitive to climate change, and which environmental drivers are most crucial?

The project will make use of the recently developed “Coltrane” model of copepod life history (Banas et al., Front. Mar. Res., 2016, http://neilbanas.com/projects/coltrane), which has been validated for several Arctic copepod populations but never in the Southern Ocean, and only over a particular range of body sizes and behavioural patterns. The new project will generalize Coltrane to resolve euphausiids as well as a more flexible range of overwintering strategies, guided by a suite of regional datasets from South Georgia Island and the Antarctic Peninsula (in the Southern Ocean) and the Eastern Bering Sea and Barents Sea (in the Arctic).

The project will be co-supervised by Dr Neil Banas, an ocean modeller in the Dept of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow UK (http://neilbanas.com/projects/); and Profs Geraint Tarling and Eugene Murphy, zooplankton ecologists at the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK (http://www.bas.ac.uk/profile/gant/http://www.bas.ac.uk/profile/ejmu/). At Strathclyde, the student will work closely with a team of students, postdocs, and senior scientists that is using Coltrane for pan-Arctic modelling of three copepod species as part of a new programme, “DIAPOD,” sponsored by the NERC Changing Arctic Ocean initiative. Results from this studentship will deepen the power of the DIAPOD model projections to capture the prey field for Arctic fish, bird, and mammal predators as a whole. The student will also have opportunities to spend periods of time at the British Antarctic Survey working alongside field ecologists and modellers. They will also have the option to experience copepod and euphausiid field sampling first hand through participation on a Southern Ocean scientific cruise. There may also be further opportunities to collaborate with leading US and Norwegian polar researchers and ocean modellers.

The position is open to all UK and EU applicants. Excellent mathematical and programming skills are required, and a background in oceanography or ecology is preferred. The position comes with three years of full support, including fees and an annual living stipend of approximately £14,000, as well as support for conference travel and other expenses. Start date is flexible.

Review of applications will begin 15 Mar 2017 and continue until the position is filled. To apply, send 1) a complete CV, 2) a 1-2 page personal statement explaining your specific interest in this position and the skills you bring to it, and 3) names and contact info for three references. Please send applications and other inquiries to Dr Neil Banas, neil.banas@strath.ac.uk.