|Salary:||This scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees (£4,596). Additional research expenses are covered by the project.|
|Placed On:||24th May 2023|
|Closes:||5th June 2023|
Start date: July 2023
Intensive farming of the whiteleg shrimp using recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS) is developing rapidly across the world, particularly in Europe, where it is an emergent aquaculture species. A total of 447 tons of shrimp are currently being produced each year in 13 European countries (Euroshrimp) and the sector is growing rapidly. However, very little is known about crustacean welfare, and there is a need to develop Operational Welfare Indicators (OWIs) for those species that are farmed most intensely, like the whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei). Crustaceans lack an adaptive immune system and this poses particular challenges for understanding their stress response and develop welfare indicators.
This project will be developed alongside the Horizon Europe IGNITION project and will contribute to the sustainable development of the industry.
It will develop and test OWIs for farmed shrimp that can help improve the sustainability and market acceptability of farmed shrimp.
The specific objectives are two:
RAS facilities at CSAR and previous experience culturing decapods will be used to develop OWIs for whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei), one of the most commonly farmed shrimp species. As in the development of OWIs for other novel species (Gutierrez-Rabadan et al 2022), a four-stage workflow process will be adopted :
To record the behaviour of whiteleg shrimp and develop behavioural indicators stereoscopic cameras and proprietary machine vision algorithms developed by the commercial sponsor Visifish will be used. Trials will be carried out in 100 or 500L tanks. Machine learning will be used to detect and classify normal and abnormal behaviours and relate this to welfare condition to serve as early warning behavioural indicators before welfare is seriously compromised. A shuttle box (Loligo) will be used to assess key environmental preferences (temperature and salinity) and evaluate how different levels of stress/disturbance affect performance indicators (growth, survival, health).
The suite of behaviour-based OWIs developed will be used to assess changes in behaviour following infection compared to controls (n = 30 per treatment, in duplicate). Linear mixed modelling will be employed to account for tanks effects and repeated measures. The infection of shrimp will be carried out by one of the IGNITION partners and videos will be analysed using the OWIs developed in this MSc by Research project.
Candidates must normally hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level in Biosciences or a related subject (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University).
English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 6.0 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent.
Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK rate only, as defined by UKCISA regulations.
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