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PhD in biophysical modelling, School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, UK
Applications are invited for a three-year research PhD studentship in biophysical ocean modelling at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, UK. The studentship is funded by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS) (http://www.higherskillswales.co.uk/kess/). It will cover tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend at the standard RCUK rate (around 14,000 per year), as well as a travel budget for workshop and conference attendance. The studentship is available from 4th January 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter.
Applicants should hold a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in oceanography, an earth science, mathematics, or engineering. Please submit a CV (max 2 pages) together with a covering letter to Dr Simon Neill at s.p.neill@bangor.ac.uk<mailto:s.p.neill@bangor.ac.uk> by 20th November 2015 17:00.
Additional eligibility notes: need to be resident in convergence area (West Wales and the Valleys) on registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.
Project description
The North Wales coast is host to a large managed population of mussels (Mytilus edulis L.), nourished by a natural supply of phytoplankton advected through the energetic Menai Strait. The mussel beds are seeded and managed by an association of companies, including Extramussel Ltd (PhD project partner). It is believed that a significant proportion of their seeded mussels go on to spawn naturally and disperse away from the mussel beds to settle at secondary grounds, yet their pathways and final settlement locations are unknown. It is in the interest of Extramussel to understand where the larvae go, so that they are able to manage their stocks efficiently and quantify their contribution to the wider ecosystem. As well as being of considerable scientific interest, the interaction of physical and biological processes that lead to larval dispersal can be a matter of economic importance in relation to the siting and management of mussel beds.
The coastal waters of Wales are highly energetic, with some of the largest and strongest tides in the world, leading researchers to believe that resident shellfish populations disperse widely during their larval stage, forming expansive metapopulations that span the entire Irish Sea. This PhD aims to use sophisticated three-dimensional models to better understand this process, and to develop an easy-to-use web-based tool for the company, that will aid identification of secondary wild mussel beds. Previous biophysical modelling studies of the region have been limited by spatial and temporal resolutions. For example, no biophysical models to-date have resolved the Menai Strait.
The student will look for the first time at population dispersal within and from this region, which will be of vital importance to the whole Irish Sea shellfisheries industry. The student will apply a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model, performing multiple simulations to capture seasonal and decadal-scale natural variabilities in oceanographic conditions. Model validation will be performed using existing and new datasets collected by the student.
Next, the student will adapt a particle tracking model to simulate the dispersal of mussel larvae from mussel beds in the Menai Strait, at times identified by Extramussel. A suite of simulations will be designed to capture their biological variability; for example, there is much uncertainty over potential secondary dispersal capabilities during the Pediveliger (late) larval phase. Under different atmospheric conditions, and for varying biological parameters, dispersal distribution maps will be created for the web-based tool, displaying the likely settlement locations of the mussels. In this way, the modelling work will be used to inform field campaigns by Extramussel, where the company will survey the identified areas and feedback their findings to the student. Successive tool-survey-tool campaigns by the student and the company will both improve the accuracy of the model and lead to a better understanding of the physiology of the species. Once the modelling framework has be!
 en developed, it could be adapted for climate change impacts, or for other shellfish species, which will lead to obvious additional economic and environmental benefits for the shellfisheries management.
The School of Ocean Sciences
The School of Ocean Sciences is one of the largest university Marine Science departments in Europe. It is a multi-disciplinary department located on the shores of the Menai Strait, North Wales, UK. It has large, modern, well equipped teaching laboratories and high tech teaching laboratories, a 35m seagoing research vessel (RV Prince Madog) and a fleet of inshore research vessels, complemented by a full range of seagoing equipment including a multibeam, ADCPs and a wave buoy. The School of Ocean Sciences maintains its own high performance computing machine, and also has access to the pan-Wales HPC Wales supercomputing network for more demanding applications, such as the high resolution 3D simulations required for this project.
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