PhD position: How to evaluate ecological carrying capacity for aquaculture in tropical environment? Determination of benthic impact threshold – Deadline 10 May 2023
A pioneer in ocean science, IFREMER’s cutting-edge research is grounded in sustainable development and open science. Our vision is to advance science, expertise and innovation to:
- Protect and restore the ocean
- Sustainably use marine resources to benefit society
- Create and share ocean data, information & knowledge.
With more than 1,500 personnel spread along the French coastline in more than 20 sites, the Institute explores the 3 great oceans: the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. A leader in ocean science, IFREMER is managing the French Oceanographic Fleet and its dedicated scientists create ground-breaking technology to push the boundaries of ocean exploration and knowledge, from the abyss to the atmosphere-ocean interface.
Well-established in the international scientific community, our scientists, engineers and technicians are committed to advance knowledge about our planet’s last unexplored frontiers. They provide the science we need for informed decision-making and public policy and they transfer this knowledge and technology to businesses to fulfill public and private needs. Core to our mission is also to strengthen public awareness about the importance of understanding the ocean and its resources, and empowering future generations of leaders through education and outreach national campaigns.
Founded in 1984, IFREMER is a French public organization and its budget approximates 240 million euros. It is operating under the joint authority of the French Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the french Ministry of the Sea, the French Ministry for the Ecological and Solidary Transition, and the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
General areas of responsibility
– The Ifremer unit within the UMR MARBEC (MARine Biodiversity, Exploitation and Conservation Joint Research Unit) carries out research on marine biodiversity, its uses and its conservation, especially in fisheries ecology and sustainable aquaculture. The activities of the Adaptation, Adaptability of Animals and Livestock Systems (L-3AS) laboratory, one of the components of this unit, contribute to the sustainable development of temperate and tropical fish farming sectors, through the acquisition of knowledge on animal-breeding system-environment interactions. This involves a multidisciplinary approach combining genetics, physiology, ethology, ecology, zootechnics and systems engineering.
– The North Brittany Environment and Resources Laboratory (LER/BN), which is responsible for observing and monitoring the environment and health of the costal ecosystems, writing opinions and expertise for administration, carrying out studies and research, and the promotion of acquired knowledge. It develops studies and research projects mainly in benthic ecology, relating to the structuring and functioning of the benthic compartment in a megatidal system.
One of the challenges for the sustainable development of aquaculture is to determine the adequate level of marine production that will not lead to a significant change in ecological processes and services, i.e. respecting the ecological carrying capacity of receiving ecosystems. To this end, modelling approaches can help decision makers. Ecological Carrying capacity varies depending on the type of ecosystem. The relationship between dose (e.g. flux of nutrients released by aquaculture) and ecosystem response (e.g. diversity) depends on many parameters (species, level of production, hydrodynamic characteristics, habitats/receiving ecosystems etc.). Most of the environmental thresholds associated with fish farming have been defined in temperate environments. Very few studies have reported impact thresholds for fish farms in tropical environments. The scientific objectives of this thesis project are i) to understand the response of benthic soft bottom habitats to organic enrichment in tropical environments (using aquaculture as a model), ii) to identify and test relevant indicators of the effects of aquaculture on the benthic compartment ii) develop semi-empirical models: quantitative dose-response relationship between fluxes and different variables of benthic ecosystems. This thesis offers an opportunity to address this issue in several French overseas territories through an original approach combining observation and modelling.
To meet these three objectives, the PhD student will:
- carry out a literature review on the effects of organic matter enrichment on benthic ecosystems in tropical environments to i) identify key state variables and processes to evaluate the trophic/assimilative capacity of the receiving ecosystem and ii) to create a database on impact thresholds.
- study the effect of aquaculture based on available data (Mayotte and French Polynesia) and available samples collected in Mayotte and Martinique – some of which remain to be analyzed (identification of benthic macrofauna, isotopic analyses, environmental DNA, etc.) and will organize/participate in a new sampling campaign in Martinique according to a common protocol.
- participate to the development of a decision support tool. A modelling tool is currently developed by Ifremer and today includes two modules: a farm module and a dispersion module, which simulate aquaculture waste emission, dispersion and deposition on the benthic environment. Based on outputs of objectives 1 and 2, the candidate will participate in the development of the third and last module: the “impact module” which will be used by stakeholders to determine the acceptable limits for the implementation of aquaculture
Ecological carrying capacity, tropical aquaculture, indicators, dose-response, modelling, soft bottom habitats
Required Knowledge, skills, and characteristics
- Master’s degree in Ecology or Modelling.
- Knowledge in benthic ecology.
- Field work, lab work.
- A good command of statistical techniques and data manipulation in R.
- Rigour and method, sense of organization, good writing skills.
- Spirit of initiative, openness, teamwork.
Specific working conditions
During the PhD, the candidate will participate to field work in Martinique. Will do laboratory work and computer work and will be encourage to present his/her work in national and international conferences.
The candidates will interact with colleagues from other laboratories stations (Ifremer Martinique, French Polynesia and CUFR Mayotte) and stakeholders (Ministry, fish farmers).
PhD is a real opportunity to work on Ifremer’s scientific and technological priority themes. It entitle the holder to a gross monthly salary of 2300 euros gross for a period of 3 years, which cannot be combined with other scholarships.
Your application file must include :
- a curriculum vitae
- a covering letter
- a reference letter
- an academic transcript (Bachelor + Master 1 and first semester Master 2)
Your application must be compiled into 2 PDF files, up to 3 MB for each file:
In case of any problem in attaching your documents, please upload your CV on this page (this step is mandatory for your application to be considered) and send all the documents by e-mail to the thesis supervisor or co-supervisors: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and Nicolas.firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for applications is May 10th, 2023. Nevertheless, we strongly urge you to let us know as soon as possible of your intention to apply, by contacting the subject supervisor.
Doctoral students’ contracts will start as of October 2nd, 2023, subject to the submission of administrative documents authorizing Ifremer to recruit the doctoral student (certificate of completion of the Master 2 or engineering degree + visa for foreign doctoral students outside the EU).
How to apply for this position
Deadline for applications: 10/05/2023
All applications are processed exclusively via their website. Interested candidates can apply by clicking the “Apply” button.
Further details about the opportunity, in this link.