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Opportunity to develop a MSc thesis on Kelp Ecology

Under the project KELPEX (Kelp export: fuel for adjacent communities in changing artic ecosystems? http://www.niva.no/kelpex) we are offering a MSc thesis on kelp ecology.

KELPEX is a multidisciplinary project integrating research in kelp forest, biodiversity, coastal and deep-sea ecology and modelling, to determine the role played by kelp export in shaping the structure and function (trophic webs) of adjacent ecosystems to kelp forests, both shallow and deep, in arctic Norway. KELPEX will quantify experimentally kelp production and export (WP1) and the effect of kelp export will be assessed in shallow-water (WP2) and deep-sea (WP3) communities. We will integrate all results from the field and lab experiments into newly developed ecological models (WP4). KELPEX will take a bulk step forward to determine the role played by kelp export in fuelling adjacent habitats, including effects on benthic ecosystem services (e.g. sustaining commercially exploited species) and will develop a predictive tool from which to assess ecosystem change associated with kelp regime shifts. KELPEX results will thus provide robust scientific knowledge to support decision making and management of arctic ecosystems under different natural and climatic stressors, addressing Norway’s strategic priorities for the Arctic. KELPEX is funded by the Norwegian Research Council (2016-2018) and includes an international team of researchers and students from Norway, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Australia.

The Master Project will be develop under WP4 (Ecotrophic Modelling, http://www.niva.no/kelpex/wp-4) to quantify main structural and functional features of shallow and deep ecosystems associated with kelp export. Ecological modelling has emerged as a highly suitable tool to integrate available biological data with the final objective to obtain an overall picture of how ecosystems are structured and how they function. This overall picture is the first step to move towards the development of future scenarios for natural ecosystems. In KELPEX we will use a combination of modelling techniques to advance on the knowledge on how the shallow and deep ecosystems associated with kelp exports are structured and how the function under present conditions and future change. Previous studies using EwE models in Jurien Bay Marine Park (Australia) demonstrated a clear influence of kelp on food web dynamics although the role of kelp production export to adjacent ecosystems is unknown to a larger extent. To develop the ecological models we will integrate data and results obtained during field work and laboratory experiments, in addition to other information available from the literature and previous monitoring and sampling campaigns. Experts on the ecosystems will be consulted to retrieve their knowledge on main species occurring in the ecosystems, main drivers and main historical changes.

Contact: Marta Coll (mcoll at icm.csic.es) for more information

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