Understanding the role of micronekton in the export of carbon in the Southern Ocean

Closing Date

29th October 2021

The Research Project

Carbon sequestration is the long-term storage of carbon on land and in the ocean. In the ocean, the biological gravitational pump was thought to be solely responsible for the transport of carbon from the surface waters to depth. However, it is now recognised that other processes are involved including particle injection via midwater biota. An important, yet understudied, component of this is the mesopelagic migrant pump which can lead to substantial amounts of carbon being actively transported to mesopelagic depths through the vertical migration of micronekton. Micronekton are free-swimming, taxonomically diverse, pelagic animals around 2-20 cm in size and comprise of some of the most abundant animals in the oceans. Micronekton contribute to the transport of carbon by feeding in the shallows and egesting C rich faeces in the deep. However, little is known about exactly how much carbon they transport.

This project aims to investigate the role micronekton play in sequestering carbon in the Southern Ocean. By linking ecosystem studies and biogeochemistry the successful student will use data and samples collected during the AAPP 2020/2021 SOLACE voyage to quantify carbon export by micronekton in the Southern Ocean. These data will be used as input into a carbon flux model for the Southern Ocean. Critically, this work will better link Southern Ocean midwater ecology and biogeochemistry.


Essential Skills:

  • Strong biological and ecological background
  • Strong biogeochemistry background
  • Strong analytical skills, especially
  • Strong English written and oral communications

Desirable Skills:

  • Experience with microscopy
  • Experience with zooplankton/micronekton identification
  • Experience in ecosystem modelling
  • Experience in laboratory analysis

Please check the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the supervisor, Prof Philip Boyd.

Information and guidance on the application process can be found here.

To submit an application for this project, click here.