Biosciences: Funded PhD Studentship: Brown trout in the Falkland Islands

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Closing date: 30 May 2017

Key Information

Swansea University is a UK top 30 institution for research excellence (Research Excellence Framework 2014), and has been named Welsh University of the Year 2017 by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

Swansea University/Swansea Science Doctoral Training Centre Scholarship 2017/2018:  

Brown trout in the Falkland Islands: invasion ecology, population structure and genetic diversity

Project Supervisors:

  • Supervisor 1. Prof Carlos Garcia de Leaniz (CSAR, Swansea University)
  • Supervisor 2. Prof Sonia Consuegra (CSAR, Swansea University)
  • Supervisor 3. Dr Paul Brickle (South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute, Falkland Islands)
  • Supervisor 4. Dr Glenn Crossin (Dalhousie University, Canada)

Project description:

The introduction of non-native brown trout has generated valuable recreational fisheries in the Falkland Islands and many other parts of the Southern Hemisphere, but has also triggered a widespread decline of native fishes. Yet, little is known about the nature of trout impacts, or the actual mechanisms driving trout-induced extinctions. The project seeks to bridge this knowledge gap in order to enable resource managers to mitigate, and if possible to prevent, further trout impacts on native fish fauna, whilst acknowledging a potential place for this species in some river systems of the Islands. We seek to answer three specific research questions, namely:

1- What is the distribution, abundance and population structure of brown trout in the Falklands? To answer this question we will employ electrofishing surveys and eDNA,  and obtain data on genetic diversity and gene flow (connectivity) among watersheds.  Scale analysis and stable isotope analysis will be employed to distinguish between resident and migratory fish, while the use of biologgers and radio tags will allow us to track the movements of trout among watersheds.

2- What are the threats to trout fisheries in the Falklands? Loss of habitat, anticipated industrial development and in particular loss of stream connectivity caused by road works are likely to be the main threats to trout populations (and fisheries) in the islands. Culverts in particular are becoming widespread in the Falklands in recent years and this project will map them, assess their potential impacts, and suggest remedial actions using systematic surveying and specialized fish passage software.

3- What are the impacts of brown trout on local fish? Answer to this question requires data on resource use and resource overlap with native galaxiid fishes, in terms of diet, competition and predation. Stable isotope analysis will be used as trophic tracers in combination with stomach analysis and spatially-explicit distribution data to estimate potential impacts, evidence of displacement, and quantification of predation.

The project will be developed at the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR, http://www.swansea.ac.uk/csar/) in collaboration with the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI, http://www.south-atlantic-research.org/about-us/about-saeri), the local angling club (Fortuna), the Fisheries Department of the Falklands Government, and Dalhousie University (Canada), capitalizing on a strong record of previous collaborations and joint student supervision among partners.

The successful candidate will be expected to spend several months carrying field work in the Falkland Islands. Additional funding for travel, laboratory analysis and subsistence is available for this purpose provided by the sponsor Fortuna and the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute.

Eligibility

Candidates must have a first, upper second class honours or a Masters degree (with Merit), in a relevant discipline. Field experience working with fish and some experience on the use of molecular and analytical methods (microsatellites, eDNA, SIA) would be desirable but not essential as the student will be fully trained and will become part of a large multi-disciplinary research group (FishBee http://fishbee.wixsite.com/fishbee).

Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is open to UK/EU candidates only. 

Funding

The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees for three years plus an annual stipend of £14,553 (RCUK rate).

How to Apply

Applicants must complete and submit the following documentation by the stated deadline.

To apply for this studentship, please download the research scholarship application form and return it to the College of Science with the following:

  • Academic References – all scholarship applications require two supporting references to be submitted. Please ensure that your chosen referees are aware of the funding deadline, as their references form a vital part of the evaluation process. Please either include these with your scholarship application or ask your referees to send them directly to science-scholarships@swansea.ac.uk
  • Academic Transcripts and Degree Certificates – academic transcripts and degree certificates must be submitted along with the scholarship application by the funding deadline. We will be using these to verify your academic qualifications.
  • A recent CV

Applicants should use the ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ section of the application form to explain why the award they are applying for particularly matches their skills and experience and how they would choose to develop the project.

Please email the documents to science-scholarships@swansea.ac.uk or post them to:

Recruitment and Marketing Team
College of Science
Wallace Building
Swansea University
Singleton Park
Swansea SA2 8PP

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