PhD studentship: Assessing the sensitivity of marine invertebrates to climate change: an interdisciplinary approach

University of Plymouth - School of Marine Science and Engineering

Dr Simon Rundle (email:, tel.: 01752 584648).

Dr Manuela Truebano (email:, tel.: 01752 587885).

Dr Enrico Rezende (email:

Applications are invited for a full-time PhD studentship commencing 1 April 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Project Description

Climate change is predicted to have profound effects on marine biodiversity and, hence, our ability to make accurate assessments of species’ sensitivities to elevated temperatures is essential for developing mitigation strategies. Currently, these assessments suffer from significant limitations because they are often generated using single populations and don’t account for the fact that sensitivity may vary dramatically between different developmental stages. Hence, there is an urgent need for more robust predictions that take into account the vulnerability of early life stages (i.e. embryos and larvae) and populations from different thermal environments (e.g. different latitudes) to thermal stress. This project will take an interdisciplinary approach that uses cutting-edge bio-imaging and molecular approaches for measuring lethal and sub-lethal responses of different life stages of marine gastropods to increased temperature. Populations will be sampled from locations with different thermal environments, which will enable the relative importance of local adaptation and phenotypic plasticity in shaping responses. The measurements made will be used to construct predictive models of species’ vulnerabilities to climate change and to develop sub-lethal bio-markers for thermal stress.

The objectives of the project will be to:

  1. measure thermal tolerance at different stages of the life cycle (embryo, larvae, juvenile, adult) from populations adapted to different local thermal conditions;
  2. make concomitant measures of sub-lethal responses (e.g. heart rate, heat shock proteins);
  3. use these measurements to produce thermal landscape models that incorporate lethal and sub-lethal responses to predict relative sensitivities of different populations to climate change.


Applicants should have (at least) a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification.

The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £14,296 per annum. The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover overseas fees will have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates (approximately £11,040 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Simon Rundle ( However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

General information about applying for a research degree at Plymouth University is available at:

You can apply via the online application form which can be found at: and click ‘Apply’.

Please mark it FAO Francesca Niedzielski and clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Marine Science and Engineering.

For more information on the admissions process contact Francesca Niedzielski (email:; tel.: +441752 586079).

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on the 31st of January 2017. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview within ten days of this date. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications.

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South West England