Phd in Environmental DNA metabarcoding associated with salmon farming
The farming of fish is expanding rapidly in order to meet the ever increasing demand for food by a rapidly growing human population. In Scotland, it constitutes the largest food-based export market, worth £500 million per year and this is set to double by 2030.
Salmon farming operations must demonstrate, to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), compliance with environmental standards around their operations. Currently, environmental monitoring is expensive and time-consuming and not conducive to optimising a site’s potential. Whilst most Scottish salmon aquaculture is marine-based, a significant proportion occurs in freshwater lochs where the impacts are poorly understood. There is not a common approach to monitoring across the two aquatic environments.
This studentship will extend an ongoing UHI-industry-SEPA project by developing and comparing the use of DNA metabarcoding technology at both marine and freshwater farming operations by addressing the following questions –
- what is the influence of fish farms on the taxonomic diversity of marine and freshwater benthic assemblages?
- which (if any) organisms can be used as indicators of environmental impact and (iii) how does the biological assemblage change over the farm production cycle and how can this be used to predict regulatory compliance?
The successful candidate will be based primarily in the Rivers and Lochs Institute in An Lòchran on Inverness Campus as well as the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI, (SAMS) as part of a team of experienced, dynamic researchers who are developing revolutionary methodologies for ecosystem-monitoring applicable to any environment. There will also be opportunities to join boat-based marine sampling and work closely with industry and regulators, giving the research a broad holistic perspective.
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Informal project specific enquiries can be made to: Dr. Mark Coulson, T: +44 (0) 1463 273 576, E: Mark.Coulson.firstname.lastname@example.org