Biogeography of Marine Communities: Beyond Food Webs and the Abundance Spectrum
A PhD studentship will be available from Autumn 2011 to research marine communities from a size-based perspective, in the laboratory of Dr Daniel Reuman. The post will be funded as part of a Natural Environment Research Council grant to Dr Reuman and PI Dr Guy Woodward of Queen Mary University of London. The post will be based in the Division of Biology at Silwood Park, Imperial College London, and will be co-supervised by Dr Julia Blanchard (Imperial) and Prof Simon Jennings of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and the University of East Anglia.
Dr Reuman runs an interdisciplinary lab applying mathematics, statistics, and computing to biological problems. He welcomes mathematical/physical scientists with strong interest in biological applications even if they may have no or little prior experience with biology.
Two classic but different approaches to community ecology have developed. The food web approach describes the species present in the community and who eats whom, often ignoring species characteristics such as body mass; the approach is perhaps best represented in the terrestrial literature. In contrast, the abundance spectrum, a central tool in aquatic community ecology and fisheries management, ignores species identity and is used to quantify how population density depends on individual body mass (larger individuals are less abundant). Both approaches have the weakness of assuming spatial homogeneity of the community, or providing community descriptions that average away spatial heterogeneity.
The student’s work will be part of a broad effort in community ecology to unify these two perspectives and to help fix the common weakness of assuming homogeneity. The work will make use of recent statistical and theoretical advances of the supervisors and large datasets from whole-sea-scale, multiannual CEFAS monitoring projects. Goals include advancing our fundamental understanding of community ecology, with an emphasis on the processes leading to large-scale patterns of abundance and species diversity in food webs, as well as using this understanding to improve ecosystem monitoring and management methods used to assess and safeguard marine ecosystems that are affected by fishing activity and climate change. The project is the marine component of a grant to PI Dr Guy Woodward of Queen Mary University of London; the supervisors are co-investigators on the grant. Dr Woodward’s grant is also closely linked to research being funded by the US National Academy of Sciences, so the project represents an excellent opportunity for the student to participate in a broader program and relate results to other systems.
This is a 3+ year fully funded full-time position primarily in the laboratory of Dr Daniel Reuman at Imperial College London, with salary at least at the NERC guidelines with London allowance plus a CASE partner contribution. Some time will be spent at the CEFAS Lowestoft Laboratory. Start date is Autumn 2011, precise date to be determined.
For more information or informal inquiries please contact Dr Reuman (firstname.lastname@example.org). Application details are at http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/people/d.reuman. The deadline is 25 March 2011. Shortlisted applicants will be contacted soon thereafter. The post, start date, and interviews are subject to change if NERC funding is modified or delayed.