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

Research contract opportunity on Ecological Modelling of MPA networks in the Mediterranean

We are looking for a candidate to apply to  a six to twelve month research contract under the SafeNet action (Sustainable Fisheries in EU Mediterranean Waters through Network of MPAs, http://www.criobe.pf/recherche/safenet/) (December 2015-December 2018).

SafeNet aims to identify coherent network(s) of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and other area-based fisheries management rules (e.g. temporary closures) whose emergent properties (namely the interactive effect of scaling-up MPAs) can help achieve fisheries maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and maximize over the long-term ecological and socio-economic benefits for the stakeholders in the north-western Mediterranean Sea (NWM). To meet this objective the partnership will apply the ecosystem-based approach to the management at both large scale and small scale fisheries in NWM. Therefore, project findings will be key to achieve 1) good environmental status (GES; representing the main goal of Marine Strategy Framework Directive, MSFD) and 2) environmental, economic and social sustainability of fisheries (as dictated by Common Fisheries Policy, CFP).

The research contract being offered will be executed under WP4 “ecosystem modelling” to develop food-web models and indicators (i) to assess the current impacts of different fishery management features such as spatial regulations including formal MPAs, fleet-specific management, species-specific quotas in the NW Mediterranean sea; and (ii) to simulate the effects of potential alternative configuration of MPA networks.

Interested candidates must hold a PhD or Master’s degree in marine biology, marine ecology, environmental sciences, or related sciences; must have experience in ecological modelling with preferably experience using Ecopath with Ecosim; must have experience with programing languages such as R or Matlab; must have experience in data management, statistical analysis and GIS; must be proficiency in English; and must be willing to attend international meetings and events. Salary and benefits will be based on candidate experience and will be subject to the Spanish labour law.

The research contract will be supervised by Marta Coll (Institute of Marine Science, ICM-CSIC, Barcelona) and Jeroen Steenbeek (Ecopath International Initiative, Barcelona). The successful candidate will be based at the Institute of Marine Science, ICM-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain (www.icm.csic.es).

Interested candidates should submit an expression of interest and detailed curriculum vitae to mcoll@icm.csic.es and Ecopath.international@gmail.com.

Submission opening 01/07/2016

Starting date: Autumn 2016 or sooner

IUCN new listing takes into account results from food web modelling studies

The endemic Mediterranean starry ray Raja asterias has been recently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Near Threatened (it was previously listed as Least Concern).

The new evaluation of IUCN has taken into account new recent data available for this species, including some studies developed using food web modelling work in the Western Mediterranean Sea:

Coll M and co-authors (2010) The biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea: estimates, patterns and threats. PLoS ONE 5:doi:10.1371

Coll M and co-authors (2013) Ecological role of the endemic Starry ray Raja asterias in the NW Mediterranean Sea and management options for its conservation. Biological Conservation 157:108-120

Find out more about this at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/63120/0

EwE introductory course in Tasmania

A new Ecopath with Ecosim introductory course is being taught in Hobart, Tasmania, from the 7th to the 11th of March 2016.

Teachers are Villy Christensen, Jeroen Steenbeek, Carl Walters and Marta Coll

Participants from eleven different countries are participating.

BlueBRIDGE EU H2020 project updates

Bringing food web models to the next level: Interview with Jeroen Steenbeek, Head Technical Committee at Ecopath Research and Development Consortium

Jeroen Steenbeek, Head Technical Committee at Ecopath Research and Development Consortium, explains why the food web models are fundamental for predicting the human impact on marine ecosystems and the work he is planning to do with BlueBRIDGE to bring the Ecopath with Ecosim approach at a next level


African and Mediterranean marine biodiversity

The First International Workshop on Global Trends in Marine Biodiversity in African and Mediterranean ecosystems was held in University of Cape Town, South Africa, from the 7-9 December 2015.

The workshop aimed at bringing scientists from Africa and Mediterranean countries together to start an analysis of marine biodiversity changes in these countries. The final aim was to work collaboratively in a global analysis using the trawl scientific surveys and complementary data in the different marine ecosystems and countries to produce an expertise overview on the state and dynamics of marine biodiversity in these two regions. Common key scientific questions were treated regarding trends in exploited and by-catch species including different categories such as species type and several species traits. A comparative approach using common statistical techniques will be used to extract the key information from available datasets in the group.
Participants to the workshop were targeted experts of different ecosystems with local knowledge and access to local datasets, with right to work and publish using the long term data sets, and experts on data analysis and statistical techniques.

DESSIM project video

Here you can find a very nice video explaining the DESSIM international project (led by Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute)



New course on Ecosystem Modelling Autumn 2015

An Introduction to Ecosystem Modelling with Ecopath, Ecosim and Ecospace course will be held at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande Do Norte (Natal, Brazil) Monday, September 14, 2015 to Friday, September 18, 2015.
More information about the course can be found here:


Teachers: Marta Coll, Jeroen Steenbeek, Ronaldo Angelini
Language: Portuguese, Spanish & English

Contact: ronangelini@gmail.com

New workshop: Building scenarios of future marine ecosystems

From the 8th to the 10th of June 2015 IRD and EII with financial support from EuroMarine are organizing the workshop “Building scenarios of future marine ecosystems under a global change context: moving forward”

This workshop aims at being a crucial event to provide needed guidelines and essential reflections on the current status and future needs of scenario building and visualization for marine ecosystems under a global change context.

The following topics will be discussed in the workshop:

• Current and foreseen needs for scenario building
• The scientific capacity required to address scenario building challenges
• Tool inventory, current initiatives and present shortcomings
• Potential collaboration and needed developments
• Establishment of a multidisciplinary scenario laboratory

Please contact me if you would like to receive further information!

Internship opportunity!

Analysis of context-dependency issues related to the identification of keystone species in marine food webs

The concept of keystone species has been widely applied and discussed in the literature since its introduction. Keystone species are ecologically important species in marine food-webs, which have a disproportionately high trophic impact on their community, compared to their biomass. Thus, keystone species theoretically allow for the management of a single focal species with the aim of maintaining the whole ecosystem. In order to identify keystone species, indices measuring the potential of species to be keystone (or ‘keystoneness’, KS) have been proposed in the literature. Functional KS indices derived from Ecopath food-web models of marine ecosystems have recently been reviewed and a new index (KS3) has been proposed (Valls et al. 2015). Overall, cartilaginous fishes and toothed whales were the most frequently identified as potential keystone species. However, in some of the selected modeled ecosystems, no keystone species could be identified. Context-dependency may be the reason for discrepancies between ecosystems. The temporal and spatial scales considered may influence the identification of keystone species. Also, multiple effects of different biotic or abiotic factors may have an influence on species keystoneness. For instance, the KS3 index may be sensitive to natural or human-induced variability (e.g., different levels of fishing pressure), which can be estimated from existing ecosystem indices.

Reference: Valls, A., Coll, M., Christensen, V., 2015. Keystone species: toward an operational concept for marine biodiversity conservation. Ecological Monographs 85, 29-47.

o Implementation of the KS3 index in the Keystoneness Analysis plug-in of the Ecopath model and software
o Selection and application of relevant existing ecosystem indices for comparison with KS3
o Utilization of the EcoBase database to select a pool of Ecopath models relevant to the analysis and extract the required data
o Implementation of statistical analyses to explore context-dependency in keystone species identification using R and PRIMER
o Preparation of a scientific article to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal in Ecology

o Master student available for a 6-months internship
o Basic notions and strong interest in ecosystem ecology and food-web theory applied to marine systems
o Basic notions in statistical analyses
o Programming skills in R for data handling and statistical analyses
o Background knowledge and computing skills in Ecopath with Ecosim and PRIMER Proficient in English

Supervision: Dr. Marta Coll (IRD, Sete, marta.coll@ird.fr) and Dr. Audrey Valls (CNRS, Moulis, audrey.valls@ecoex-moulis.cnrs.fr)

Starting date: as soon as possible Location: CRH, Sete, France with visits to Moulis.

Please contact us if you are interested!