PhD - Marine Ecosystem Assessment in a Patchy World: Are AUVs the Solution to Quantify Zooplankton? (HEYWOOD_U17NERCI)

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Science

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Prof Karen Heywood

Project description:

Imagine that the food in your kitchen moved instantaneously from cupboard to cupboard. How would you plan your meals? This is the problem faced by governments trying to manage our fisheries. Monitoring marine ecosystems is costly, time-consuming and logistically challenging. This PhD project will assess the use of ocean glider-borne echo sounders for ecosystem assessment, and advance understanding of the drivers of zooplankton patchiness.

Traditionally, assessments of zooplankton are made by ship, by net or multi-frequency acoustic echo sounders. Instead, you will use echo sounders on autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and gliders. You will design glider missions using existing ship-based zooplankton data sets, and high-resolution ocean model output. You will test these sampling strategies on upcoming North Sea and Southern Ocean glider campaigns. You will use the acoustic data to estimate zooplankton density and investigate causes of patchiness, interpreting the spatial patterns in the context of the physical, biogeochemical, or bathymetric controls on zooplankton abundance and distribution.

This fully funded NERC Industrial CASE PhD studentship is a joint project between UEA, Cefas and British Antarctic Survey. You will spend time working with all three partners. You don’t need to have experience of oceanography, marine biology, numerical modelling or acoustics, but you should be keen to learn. Some programming experience (e.g. with Matlab) would be beneficial. We will train you in the use of ocean gliders, seagoing multidisciplinary oceanography and data analysis. You will join UEA’s NERC-funded DTP EnvEast, which will equip you with many skills for your future career.

Person specification: Minimum 2:1 - Oceanography, Natural Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Biology, Physics, Engineering, or a similar numerate degree.

Funding notes:

This NERC Industrial Case studentship is funded for 4 years. An annual stipend of £14,296 will be available to the successful candidate who meets the UK Research Council eligibility criteria. These requirements are detailed in the RCUK eligibility guide which can be found at In most cases UK and EU nationals who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the course are eligible for a full-award. Other EU nationals may qualify for a fees only award.

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South East England