[Coral-List] Academic Fellowship at Plymouth University

Martin Attrill M.Attrill at plymouth.ac.uk
Wed Jan 12 09:44:12 EST 2005

Dear All


Please find below details of an exciting opportunity within our team at the University of Plymouth. Please pass on to any suitable post-docs.






The University of Plymouth has been awarded five academic fellowships by RCUK, one of which is under the general area "Human Impacts on Marine Ecosystems" (see below). These are five-year appointments which will lead to permanent academic positions (subject to normal probationary procedures). You must be a postdoctoral researcher of high quality with experience relevant to one of the selected research areas.

In addition to carrying out research in the designated area, you will also contribute to the University's teaching activities. More details of the Marine Ecosystems post are below:


5. Human impacts on marine ecosystems

This project, potentially held in collaboration with partners such as the Marine Biological Association, Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, will investigate the long-term impact of large-scale drivers (e.g. climate change, eutrophication, fisheries) on marine ecosystems. For informal enquiries, please contact Prof. Martin Attrill on 01752 232916, or preferably email

martin.attrill at plymouth.ac.uk Ref: /AF - full details of the post are below


It is expected that these Fellowships will be appointed on the lecturer scale, currently £23,643 to £29,479 pa, though for exceptional candidates a starting point higher than this will be considered.


Closing date: 12 Noon Friday 4th February 2005.

Please request an application pack, quoting Ref & Job Title, via:


Email: jobs at plymouth.ac.uk

Tel: 01752 232168 (24 hour answerphone)



Job Description for Academic Fellowship


Human Impacts on Marine Ecosystems

Influence of large-scale factors at the ecosystem level




Contemporary ecology regards humans as an integral component of terrestrial and many marine ecosystems. Certainly, humans are imposing a heavy footprint on all marine ecosystems and recent discoveries of new communities or entire ecosystems have usually been accompanied by revelations that they are already impacted either unintentionally or by overexploitation. The future sustainability of marine ecosystems is heavily dependent on our understanding of the coupling between social and ecological systems, improvement in assessing human impacts on marine systems and our ability to create better feedback mechanisms between science and policy. This imperative has been recognised in the recent adoption of the 'ecosystem approach' and 'adaptive management' as key tools for the development and implementation of measures to protect the marine environment nationally, regionally and globally. Both tools require sound multidisciplinary science, however, and there is currently a gap in the way existing knowledge is integrated for this purpose. 

The institutions comprising the Plymouth Marine Sciences Partnership have a unique knowledge base as the building blocks for this broader multidisciplinary approach and this strength is becoming widely recognised nationally and internationally. The University, working very closely with the Marine Biological Association has taken a lead in bridging science and policy and this new post will help to consolidate this work and develop a stronger science base following modern principles of systems ecology. The fellowship has been assigned to the Marine Biology and Ecology Research Group (School of Biological Sciences, Prof. Martin Attrill) and the Marine and Coastal Policy Research Group (School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences, Prof. Laurence Mee) who are already cooperating very closely in the framework of a major European research project. 

The appointment of the Fellow offers many exciting possibilities to undertake research at the forefront of marine science, working in collaboration with the Marine Biological Association, Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Marine Science and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Possible projects include:

1.                          Long-term patterns in the distribution of marine fish larvae in the North Atlantic. Working with the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Marine Science, this project would involve reanalysis of Continuous Plankton Recorder data and samples since the 1930s in order to determine long-term trends in larval fish distribution, abundance, diversity and phenology and link these with major driving factors such as climate, eutrophication and fisheries.

2.                          Impact of the North Atlantic Oscillation on marine systems: constructing ecosystem linkages. Extensive evidence has been compiled for the role that this climate phenomenon has on components of marine ecosystems, particularly in the North Sea, and much of this work has arisen from Plymouth Marine Science Partners. Studying this climate variation gives insights into responses to climate change and this project would investigate the direct and indirect mechanisms by which marine systems respond by aggregating data on all components of the North Sea.

3.                          The interaction of temperature and eutrophication on the integrity of marine systems. Both climate-related temperature increases and elevated nutrient levels are having clear large-scale impacts on marine systems. This project would assess potential synergistic or antagonistic interactions between the two factors and how changes in both affect key marine ecosystems, such as how algal growth impacts important structural species (corals, seagrass), species change in planktonic systems, increase in gelatinous taxa, etc.

4.                          The development of practical tools for implementing the 'ecosystem approach'. The ecosystem approach will be the central paradigm in the new European Marine Strategy. Its effective implementation requires a new generation of community and ecosystem-level indicators that are sensitive to phenomena such as eutrophication and climate change. Their development should reflect underlying advances in ecology, particularly a better understanding of non-linear changes (including system phase shifts). This project would help to develop and test the new generation of indicators.

5.                          Understanding the ecology and dynamics of a Fisheries No-Take Zone (FNTZ). The new Common Fisheries Policy incorporates provision for new management tools including FNTZs. One of the main reasons these have not been applied is the high level of scientific uncertainty regarding their effectiveness. A pilot 'recovery' zone is proposed, together with a long term monitoring programme for its effectiveness. The establishment of such a zone will require intensive multidisciplinary studies, repeated systematically and will attract worldwide interest.


Description of the applicant


The successful applicant will have a broad knowledge of techniques to assess the state of marine ecosystems and systems ecology. This would preferably include some understanding of the links between social and natural systems and current policies to protect marine ecosystems. In particular, he/she shall have recognised experience with conceptual and/or quantitative modelling and have demonstrated the application of this knowledge in the publication of quality research papers in applied ecology. The applicant must also demonstrate the ability to work as part of a team as well as being able to develop original and innovative research. All researchers in the University are expected to develop new research proposals as an integral part of their work. The University is a major centre for teaching and the incumbent will be expected to undertake a moderate amount of lecturing in areas closely related to his/her research. A prerequisite for this position is a PhD in a relevant area of marine ecology, a demonstrated understanding of social and/or ecosystem-level science and prior postdoctoral experience.





Martin J. Attrill <http://www.plym.ac.uk/staff/mattrill%20> 
Professor of Marine Ecology 

Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre
<http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/mberg> School of Biological Sciences 
University of Plymouth 
Drake Circus,  Plymouth 
PL4 8AA, U.K. 

Internal Room: Room 622, Davy Building
Tel: +44 (0)1752 232916 
Fax: +44 (0)1752 232970 


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