2 PhD studentships in Global Change Impact on Plankton Communities

Code: 21/D/Bio / 22/D/Bio
Faculty: Science
Job type: Part time
Location: Helgoland

The Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) is a member of the Helmholtz Association (HGF) and funded by federal and state government. AWI focuses on polar and marine research in a variety of disciplines such as biology, oceanography, geology, geochemistry and geophysics thus allowing multidisciplinary approaches to scientific goals.

The section Shelf Sea System Ecology at the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, Germany, invites applications for two positions:

2 PhD studentships in Global Change Impact on Plankton Communities

Position 1: focusing on phytoplankton  (21/D/Bio)

Position 2: focusing on zooplankton (22/D/Bio)

These two positions are part of the newly BMBF-funded project PlanktoSERV in the junior working group led by Dr. Cédric Meunier. The aim of this project is to realistically assess the impact of global change on plankton individuals, populations, and communities and to provide a robust understanding of future ecosystem services alterations. This project will support in total three PhD students, one postdoc, and one impact analyst.

Phytoplankton productivity largely depends on the interplay between different abiotic parameters including temperature, nutrients, and salinity, all of which are under rapid change. Further, phytoplankton communities provide important ecosystem services through their influence on the cycling of nutrients, carbon, and trace metals; on water and habitat quality; and on secondary production by herbivores and higher trophic levels. Conversely, zooplankton exerts an important top-down control on phytoplankton and contributes substantially to the cycling of bulk organic matter. However, global change affects phyto- and zooplankton and these alterations in primary and secondary production as well as trophic interactions will affect the entire food web structure and functioning.

Despite the threat posed by global change, we lack predictive knowledge since most studies to date have focused on single stressors. This project will realistically assess the impact of simultaneous changes in temperature, pH, nutrients, and salinity on planktonic organisms and will provide a robust evaluation of how plankton is and will be affected by abiotic changes. To do so, the two PhD candidates will test the impacts of predicted abiotic changes on North Sea phytoplankton and zooplankton communities in outdoor mesocosm experiments. The two PhD candidates will conduct these experiments together, one candidate focusing on the response of phytoplankton and the other on zooplankton.

The specific tasks of the PhD candidate focusing on phytoplankton will be to determine the impact of global change on

(1) phytoplankton biomass, species composition, and biodiversity

(2) primary production and bulk plankton respiration, and

(3) phytoplankton chemical food quality (fatty acids, stoichiometry) as it is an important driver of zooplankton dynamics.

The specific tasks of the PhD candidate focusing on zooplankton will be to determine the impact of global change on

(1) micro- and mesozooplankton biomass and species composition,

(2) secondary production and grazing activities, and

(3) trophic levels of omnivorous consumers (e.g. copepods).

The candidates will also gain supervising experience by working together with bachelor and master students and will be given the opportunity to present scientific results at international conferences.

We are looking for highly motivated and driven candidates with excellent practical skills.

    a Master degree (or equivalent) in Aquatic Sciences
    a strong background in Aquatic Ecology/Marine Biology
    working experience with plankton ecology including plankton culturing
    knowledge in plankton taxonomy
    preferably experience in conducting mesocosm experiments
    strong team player skills
    strong cooperation and communication skills in English language written and oral

For more information, please contact Dr. Cédric Meunier (E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Phone +49(0)4725 819 3143).

The candidates are expected to start on the 1st May and the positions are limited to 3 years.

We offer you a multi-disciplinary, international, and fascinating professional environment with flexible working hours, state-of-the-art research equipment, and a first-rate infrastructure.

Disabled applicants will be given preference when equal qualifications are present. The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family through various means. Because of our engagement in the area of work-life compatibility we have been awarded the certificate “Career and Family”.

As Ph.D. student at AWI you will be member of the Helmholtz Graduate School for Polar and Marine Research ‘POLMAR’ (http://polmar.awi.de).

Please forward your applications with the standard documentation (letter of motivation, CV, references, publication list if applicable) by February 25th, 2018 referencing code 21/D/Bio for Position 1 and code 22/D/Bio for Position 2 by e-mail (all documents merged into one PDF file)

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