[Coral-List] Postdoctoral Research Opportunity Exploring Reef Accretion with the US Geological Survey

Kuffner, Ilsa ikuffner at usgs.gov
Wed Jul 24 13:12:44 EDT 2013

Dear List Members:

I am happy to post the following USGS Mendenhall Research Fellowship
research opportunity. U.S. citizenship is not required for applying for a
Mendenhall postdoc position; however those with U.S. citizenship are given
priority. More information is available through the Mendenhall Program
website at http://geology.usgs.gov/postdoc/.

*Direct link to Research Opportunity: *

*14-38. Exploring Holocene coral reef accretion rates in the Florida Keys:
what drives biogenic calcification, reef accretion, and erosion in an
ever-changing ocean?*

We seek a postdoctoral fellow who can help unravel the mystery as to why
some coral reefs in the Florida Keys continue to accrete calcium-carbonate
structure while many others stopped growing sometime during the late
Holocene. While it is known that coral reefs and other carbonate
environments are sensitive to changes in climate, ocean chemistry, and sea
level (Hubbard 1997), the thickness of Holocene reef accumulation varies
considerably throughout the Caribbean region. For instance, many areas of
the Florida Keys have only minimal (< 2 m) accretion above the
Pleistocene-Holocene boundary, while in the Dry Tortugas it is >15 m thick
(Shinn et al. 1977; Gischler and Hudson 2004). Distance from large tidal
passes that allow flow through the Florida Keys from the West Florida Shelf
and Florida Bay, along with antecedent topography, seems to predict well
where the thickest Holocene reefs have accumulated (Shinn et al. 1977;
Aronson and Precht 2006). This idea is sometimes referred to as the
“inimical waters hypothesis,” as it is generally thought that the dynamic
waters of these shallow water bodies are not conducive to supporting coral
reef growth.  Somewhat paradoxically however, Florida Keys patch reefs
inside of the turbid Hawk Channel in closer proximity to near-shore
influences continue to be abundantly populated by large reef-building
corals, whereas reefs on the outer reef tract have suffered high rates of
coral mortality over the past few decades resulting from diseases and
bleaching, and have not recovered since (Porter et al. 2002).

Recent USGS research has shown that calcification rate of a major
reef-building species of coral calcifies faster in the Dry Tortugas
compared to three sites in the main Keys (Kuffner et al. 2013). While the
correlation between coral calcification rate of one species and reef
accretion rates is intriguing, the patterns cannot be explained given
current knowledge of the processes controlling reef-building, biogenic
calcification, and bioerosion of reef materials. Reef-building processes
are complex and span the geologic and biologic disciplines. Better
understanding of relationships between depositional environment, seawater
chemistry, and reef accumulation are needed to predict change in reef
building and biogenic calcification processes in response to changing
climate and ocean chemistry.  Predicting the behavior of carbonate systems
during this century is of critical importance to national interests.
Examining the factors that have influenced reef accretion throughout the
Holocene should increase our understanding of present-day change in coral
reef trajectories as the oceans continue to warm, acidify, and are
subjected to land-use change.

The Mendenhall Fellow will have the opportunity to conduct original studies
investigating the patterns and processes controlling the development of
fossil and/or extant coral reefs in the Florida-Caribbean region, with
special focus on Dry Tortugas NP, Biscayne NP, and the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary.  We would welcome proposals within a broad area
that might encompass Holocene - Pleistocene coring and interpretation, the
use of recent Holocene environmental recorders (e.g., corals), or any other
retrospective geologic techniques involving paleoreconstruction of climate
and/or seawater chemistry and reef-building conditions. As a potential
resource, the Fellow would have access to the USGS core archives, which
include several hundred modern coral and fossil Quaternary cores from the
Florida-Caribbean region and elsewhere (http://olga.er.usgs.gov/coreviewer/

The Mendenhall Fellow will have the unique opportunity to be a part of a
multidisciplinary team with a variety of expertise in coral reef biology,
carbonate geology, paleoclimate reconstruction, and ocean chemistry (see the
 Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies (CREST) <http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/crest/>.
website for details). As part of the CREST project team, the Mendenhall
Fellow may participate in multi-investigator field missions throughout the
Florida Keys and possibly the Virgin Islands. Late Holocene paleoclimate
research is also being conducted at the USGS. In addition to researchers at
the USGS, the Mendenhall Fellow will have an opportunity to interact with
researchers at the College of Marine Science at the University of South
Florida (USF), NOAA National Marine Fisheries, the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Commission, and the Florida Institute of Oceanography.

*Literature cited:*

Aronson RB, Precht WF (2006) Conservation, precaution, and Caribbean reefs.
Coral Reefs 25: 441-450.

Gischler E, Hudson JH (2004) Holocene development of the Belize barrier
reef. Sedimentary Geology 164: 223-236.

Hubbard DK (1997) Reef as dynamic systems. In: Birkeland CE (ed) Life and
Death of Coral Reefs. Chapman and Hall, New York, pp 43-67.

Kuffner IB, Hickey TD, Morrison JM (2013) Calcification rates of the
massive coral *Siderastrea siderea* and crustose coralline algae along the
Florida Keys (USA) outer-reef tract. Coral Reefs (open access
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00338-013-1047-8). Also see
recent press release:

Porter JW, Kosmynin V, Patterson KL, Porter KG, Jaap WC, Wheaton JL,
Hackett K, Lybolt M, Tsokos CP, Yanev G, Marcinek DM, Dotten J, Eaken D,
Patterson M, Meier OW, Brill M, Dustan P (2002) Detection of coral reef
change by the Florida Keys Coral Reef Monitoring Project. In: Porter JW,
Porter KG (eds) The Everglades, Florida Bay, and Coral Reefs of the Florida
Keys: An Ecosystem Sourcebook. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp 749-769.

Shinn EA, Hudson JH, Halley RB, Lidz B (1977) Topographic control and
accumulation rate of some Holocene coral reefs: South Florida and Dry
Tortugas Proc 3rd Int Coral Reef Symp, Miami, pp 1-7.

*Proposed Duty Station*: St. Petersburg, FL

*Areas of Ph.D.: *Marine geology, carbonate geology, paleoclimatology,
oceanography, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other
disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the
Research Opportunity may be considered).

*Qualifications: *Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications -
 Research Geologist<http://geology.usgs.gov/postdoc/opps/qualifications.html#res_geol>
, Research Oceanographer<http://geology.usgs.gov/postdoc/opps/qualifications.html#res_ocean>
, Research Physical

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the
occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable
depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal.
The final classification of the position will be made by the Human
Resources specialist).

*Research Advisor: *Ilsa Kuffner, 727-803-8747,
ikuffner at usgs.gov<https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&to=ikuffner@usgs.gov>

*Human Resources Office Contact:* Junell Norris, (303) 236-9557,
jlnorris at usgs.gov<https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&to=jlnorris@usgs.gov>

*All the information you will need to apply can be found on the Mendenhall
Program website at the following URL:* *http://geology.usgs.gov/postdoc*.

*Selected information on the USGS Mendenhall Research Fellowship Program:*

Mendenhall Fellowships are 2-year appointments with competitive salary and
benefits. Mendenhall Fellows are typically granted project expense funds
appropriate to the scope of research to be conducted. Postdoctoral research
projects under this program have spanned a wide range of scientific topics
of interest and relevance to the mission of the USGS. For additional
information, please consult the *Project Profiles *section of the
Mendenhall Program web site at the following URL: *
http://geology.usgs.gov/postdoc*. There are 47 new Research Opportunities
presently being advertised, and all have an application closing date of
September 20, 2013.

*What is it like to be a USGS Mendenhall Fellow? *Check out the FAQ section
of the program web site for some informative quotes from previous
Mendenhall Fellows. Another way is to find out directly from a Fellow --
Project Profiles contain their contact information.

Mendenhall postdoctoral research opportunities are advertised through the
Program web site. The current set of opportunities will be open for
application through September 20, 2013. We anticipate being in a position
to make offers (pending availability of funds) late this year.

*Program contacts:*

*Overall Program and Science - Dr. Rama K. Kotra, 703-648-6271,
rkotra at usgs.gov,*

*Human Resources - Ms. Susan Fong-Young, 916-278-9402, sfyoung at usgs.gov*

*Program Web Site: http://geology.usgs.gov/postdoc *U.S. Department of the
Interior July 2013 U.S. Geological Survey

Applicants must submit their applications through USAJOBS, and this is the
only way to apply. The entry point for the USAJOBS site is through the
Research Opportunity table. Please do not send application materials via
email to any of the email contacts listed here.

Thank you and good luck to those interested!


Ilsa Kuffner
Ilsa B. Kuffner, Ph.D.
St. Petersburg Coastal & Marine Science Center
600 4th Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Email: ikuffner at usgs.gov
Tel: (727) 803-8747 ext. 3048
Fax: (727) 803-2030

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