[Coral-List] MSc thesis opportunity – Caribbean and Pacific

Joost den Haan joostdenhaan at gmail.com
Fri Feb 26 03:10:41 EST 2016

Dear Coral List,

Please forward this position description to MSc students that are looking for a project on coral reef ecology/physiology as part of their thesis.


Project title:  Testing the iron-limited primary productivity hypothesis for benthic algae: Caribbean vs. Pacific



Guadeloupe, Caribbean

or / and

Moorea, Southern Pacific


Project description:

The objectives of the project are to determine the content of bioavailable iron in sediments and algae from Caribbean and Pacific coral reefs and to determine whether benthic algae from the Pacific express more iron-limited productivity than those from the Caribbean. We will use four different techniques to do this:



1)    Pulse Amplitude Modulation (PAM) following the protocol of Den Haan et al. (2013)

2)    Hyperspectral imaging (see Chennu et al. (2013))

3)    Growth experiments to study the effect of iron enrichment on the reef

4)    Sampling of different reservoirs (water column, sediments, algae) for iron content determination

Students that are interested will take on either technique 1 or 2, and will master this technique before they travel to the Caribbean or Pacific.


Technical skills/methods that we will apply in the field:

Scientific diving; boat handling; identification of macroalgae; Pulse Amplitude Modulation; NIFT experiments; Hyperspectral Imaging; water sampling; in situ growth experiments; dry weight measurements; macroalgae collection


Type of student preferred:

Students will need to be already enrolled in a masters program. The proposed project may fill all of their requirement for research experience. You can join the Caribbean (Guadeloupe) or Pacific (Moorea) trip, or both trips.



-       Rescue Diving license (so that you are allowed to dive below 18 m depth)

-       At least 30 logged dives

-       Last dive not longer than 1.5 years ago

-       Currently attend an MSc in biology or a related field

-       Basic laboratory skills

-       DAN insurance while on fieldwork (or equivalent)

o   check http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/insurance/

-       Preferred: programming skills, especially for the student that will do technique #2 (hyperspectral imaging)

-       Preferred: bring own dive equipment


Timespan of fieldwork: 

July – September 2016                       2 students for the Caribbean trip

October – December 2016                 2 students for the Pacific trip


Therefore, there is room for 4 students in total.


Note that you will be starting with you MSc thesis earlier than the timespan of the fieldwork, as you will be required to get familiar with techniques #1 or #2 before the fieldwork starts and read up on the necessary literature. After the fieldtrip, you will be writing up your thesis with data acquired from either technique. Dr. Joost den Haan will be supervising you during this time, together with other members from our team (see below).


Involved institutes (the team):

-       CRIOBE, France – Dr. Joost den Haan, Dr. Maggy Nugues (http://www.criobe.pf) <http://www.criobe.pf)>
-       Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Germany – Dr. Joost den Haan, Dr. Dirk de Beer, Dr. Arjun Chennu, Dr. Katharina Pahnke (http://www.mpi-bremen.de/en/) <http://www.mpi-bremen.de/en/)>
-       Université des Antilles et de la Guyane – Prof. Claude Bouchon

-       University of California, Santa Barbara – Dr. Deron Burkepile (https://labs.eemb.ucsb.edu/burkepile/deron/ <https://labs.eemb.ucsb.edu/burkepile/deron/>)

-       University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Dr. Petra Visser (http://ibed.uva.nl) <http://ibed.uva.nl)>


If successful and if the student delivers good work, the student will be included as a co-author on the publication(s).


Financial contribution:

Students are required to pay for their own travel and stay on the island. Diving, boating and research are covered. There are however possibilities to obtain travel grants, which can be written up together with Dr. Joost den Haan or other colleagues of the team.


How to apply:

Please send an email to Dr. Joost den Haan (see below) explaining your interest in the project before 25 March 2016. Furthermore, state which region you would like to join (Caribbean or Pacific) and which technique you are interested in. Do not forget to include an up-to-date CV.


Dr. Joost den Haan

USR 3278 CRIOBE CNRS-EPHE-UPVD & Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology

Phone: +494212028832 or  +4917637547353

Email: joostdenhaan at gmail.com <mailto:joostdenhaan at gmail.com>  or  jhaan at mpi-bremen.de <mailto:jhaan at mpi-bremen.de>


For further reading, please check the following papers:

Chennu, A. et al., 2013. Hyperspectral imaging of the microscale distribution and dynamics of microphytobenthos in intertidal sediments. Limnol Oceanogr-Meth, 11(10), pp.511–528.

Den Haan, J. et al., 2013. Fast detection of nutrient limitation in macroalgae and seagrass with nutrient-induced fluorescence. PloS one, 8(7), p.e68834. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068834.



<o)))><  …….  ><(((o>

Dr. Joost den Haan
Marine biologist

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology
Celsiusstraße 1, D-28359 Bremen

Phone: +494212028832 or  +4917637547353
Email: joostdenhaan at gmail.com <mailto:joostdenhaan at gmail.com>  or  jhaan at mpi-bremen.de <mailto:jhaan at mpi-bremen.de>
Skype: joostdenhaan831
Website: http://www.mpi-bremen.de/en/Joost_den_Haan.html <http://www.mpi-bremen.de/en/Joost_den_Haan.html>
Short introduction of what we do at the Max Planck Institute:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v56hAf8SjYY&feature=youtu.be/ <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v56hAf8SjYY&feature=youtu.be>

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