Assimilation of aquaculture-derived organic carbon by temperate reef sponge assemblages

Closing Date

1st September 2020*

Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

*unless filled earlier

The Research Project

Aquaculture is an important industry that is developing rapidly in temperate coastal regions worldwide. While soft-sediment impacts have been relatively well described, there is much less know regarding trophic interactions and how marine food webs may uptake and assimilate additional organic carbon loadings. As aquaculture continues to expand, a greater understanding of these trophic linkages is vital for sustainable development.

Sponges are sessile filter-feeders that are a ubiquitous feature on temperate reefs worldwide. They can be sensitive to organic enrichment, with increases in sedimentation potentially smothering sponges and limiting their capacity to feed and respire effectively. However, they also have the capacity to remove both particulate organic carbon (POC) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from the water column. With a high filtering capacity and association with diverse microbial communities, they are a key link in carbon flow from pelagic to benthic systems and a potential pathway for mitigating aquaculture waste into marine ecosystems. While the role of sponge communities in POC and DOC cycling in tropical reef systems is acknowledged, the capacity for this in temperate reef systems is less well understood. This PhD will explore the assimilatory capacity of temperate reef sponge communities and their potential interaction with finfish aquaculture.

  • Applicants should have a first class Honours degree or equivalent qualifications in biological science or human impacts research, with demonstrated experience in the key research areas. Scientific Diver, or similar relevant qualifications or the ability to obtain these are also required
  • Demonstrated experience in laboratory based respiration or metabolism experiments would be beneficial, along with knowledge of temperate reef ecosystems or experience in natural resource management

See the following web page for entry requirements:

Assessment Criteria
  • Applicants will be assessed and ranked according to the quality of their basis for entry research degree and institution, prior peer reviewed publications, academic awards, project-specific skills, training or relevant industry experience, referee's reports and supervisory support
Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the listed Supervisor. Information and guidance on the application process can be found on the Apply Now website.

Information about scholarships is available on the Scholarships webpage.

More Information

Please contact, Camille White for further information.