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PhD Studentship: PhD Marine Sciences - “Bouncing Back from Macroalgal-dominated Reefs: Microbial and Chemical Effects of Algal Removal and Coral Transplanting

University of Plymouth

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Devon, Plymouth
Funding for: UK Students, International Students
Funding amount: The studentship is supported for 3.5 years and includes a stipend from £18,622 per annum (2023-24 rate)
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 27th October 2023
Closes: 10th January 2024

Bouncing back from macroalgal-dominated reefs: microbial and chemical effects of algal removal and coral transplanting.

DoS: Dr Miriam Reverter (miriam.reverter@plymouth.ac.uk)

2nd Supervisor: Dr Mahasweta Saha, Plymouth Marine Laboratory (msa@pml.ac.uk)

3rd Supervisor: Dr Andy Foggo (A.Foggo@plymouth.ac.uk)

Applications are invited for a 3.5 years PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 01 October 2024

Project Description

Scientific background:

Climate change is causing major ecological shifts, with important consequences for ecosystem functioning. In coral reefs, coral-algal transitions are the most well-known shift. Following algal increases, an array of mechanisms that reinforce algal dominance and prevent coral recovery are established. For example, algal chemicals can promote changes in microbial communities, negatively affecting corals. Algae can damage corals upon contact through the presence of chemical defences or by transferring opportunistic bacterial pathogens. To date, understanding of these mechanisms, their reversibility, and their effects on key reef functions remains limited. The objective of this project is to investigate the microbial and chemical mechanisms that reinforce algal-dominated reefs and to evaluate if algal removal and coral transplantation can reverse these mechanisms to help recover coral-dominated reefs.

Methodology:

The student will study macroalgal-dominated coral reefs undergoing different interventions near the island of Moorea (French Polynesia). The microbial and chemical landscapes of these ecosystems will be studied using metabarcoding and metabolomics. Different experiments (coral settlement and herbivore deterrence) will be carried out at the University of Plymouth and the University of Derby to investigate the effects of macroalgae on key reef functions.

Training: The student will receive exceptional training in metabolomics, microbiology, bioinformatics, marine fieldwork and in writing scientific publications. The student will learn good laboratory practice and quality assurance, and will present their findings at team meetings, international scientific conferences, and in peer-reviewed scientific publications. The skillset acquired will be relevant to careers in academia, biotechnology, and ngo/governmental conservation roles.

This project links to a wider international project that explores the effectiveness of coral restoration interventions, allowing the student to become part of a vibrant international team. The student will participate in at least one field season at CRIOBE (Moorea). The student will be allowed freedom to modify the project design, depending on own interests and skills, within the broad scope of the project’s aims.

Person specification:

We seek a highly motivated individual with a Marine Biology (or related) degree, ideally holding a diving qualification (minimum Advanced Open Water/HSE), willing to travel to remote field sites. R experience desirable.

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Miriam Reverter, miriam.reverter@plymouth.ac.uk

Eligibility and Funding

For further information on Eligibility and Funding, please click on the links below: 

To apply for this position please visit here.

Please clearly state the name of the studentship that you are applying for on the top of your personal statement.

Please see here for a list of supporting documents to upload with your application.

For more information on the admissions process generally, please visit our How to Apply for a Research Degree webpage or contact the Doctoral College.

The closing date for applications on 10th January 2024. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview after the deadline.

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