PhD position: Incorporating ecosystem service considerations into integrated ecosystem assessments using a functional trait-based approach – Deadline 03 July 2023

Summary of the Work Plan

The increasing exploitation of marine resources and competition for space from industries such as fishing, aquaculture, marine renewables, mining, oil and gas extraction and cable laying, has prompted concern over the health of our oceans. Impacts of direct human use of the ocean are compounded by the effects of climate change, including ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation, on marine species. National and international governing agencies are under immense pressure to rapidly develop: 1) science-based regulatory frameworks, and 2) management plans that safeguard the protection of biodiversity, and critically the services provided by ecosystems. Integrated ecosystem assessments (IEA) can act as a bridge between science and policy by providing scientific information on the consequences of human use to ecosystems in an easily understandable manor. However, improvements to IEA could be made in linking more explicitly ecosystems to the services they provide. Functional traits can determine an organism’s response to pressures (response traits), and their effects on ecosystem function and services (effect traits). Integrating trait-based considerations into IEA has the potential to offer new insights into how to prioritize, assess risk, and develop conservation and management strategies for ecosystems at local, regional, and global scales. This PhD project will build on the IEA approach, by conducting research that 1) considers the linkages between species, their response and effects traits, ecosystem services and vulnerabilities to human induced pressures, and 2) links between spatially mappable ecosystems, their services and vulnerabilities.

Key questions for each chapter:

  • What marine organism traits are linked to ecosystem services and organism responses to human induced pressures?
  • Which spatially mappable ecosystems contribute most to functional diversity and ecosystem services, and what are their respective vulnerabilities to human induced pressures?
  • How is functional diversity, ecosystem services and species vulnerability spatially distributed in South Atlantic Case Study areas?
  • How can IEA be extended to incorporate spatially explicit and societal impact assessments.

The candiate will work with the support of partners from accrss EC HORISON 2020 projects Mission Atlantic (2020-2025; and iAtlantic (

Candidate Profile:

  • Degree in relevant subject (MSc or relevant experience)
  • Desired experience in any one of habitat mapping and modelling, systematic review, hierarchical modelling of species communities, GIS and R.

Name(s) of supervisor(s)

Name(s) of host institution(s)

University of  Aveiro, Portugal

Identification of PhD program (at the Portuguese University)

Do*Mar – Marine Science, Technology and Management (Link)

Notice of the Call ( English version)

The AIR Centre PhD Scholarship Programme aims at training the leaders of the future

Enhancing scientific research and technology development capabilities of AIR Centre Network in order to better respond to national priorities and global challenges in the Atlantic region;

  • Strengthening existing collaboration ties and exploring or developing new collaboration ties between the AIR Centre and the Portuguese scientific community in areas of common interest;
  • Promoting bilateral/multilateral cooperation between Portuguese scientific institutions and other institutions from diverse Atlantic countries through inclusive knowledge and data sharing to promote job creation, young entrepreneurship and inclusive sustainable development;
  • Expanding the reach of the AIR Centre scientific agenda through a wider engagement with the academia to demonstrate the societal relevance and public value of research.

Doctoral research work will be carried out entirely or partially in a Portuguese institution.


Scholarships are annual, renewable to a maximum of 4 years.


Applications and all supporting documents must be submitted online using the Application Form available on each scholarship page. Applications submitted by other means will not be accepted.

Application Process

Please note that you will need the items listed below. To ease the submission process, we suggest you gather them before you start your application:

  • Copy of your Identification Document (ID card, passport);
  • Certificate degree and grades transcript.
  • Your Curriculum Vitae and saved as PDF;
  • A Motivation Letter
  • 2 Recommendation letters.

Notification of results

Evaluation results will be communicated to the email address provided by the candidates in the application form.

For  further information about this opportunity, click here.

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