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PhD research project

21 Décembre 2017 , Rédigé par Bioécologie Publié dans #Thèses - Post-doc - Emploi - Bourse

Fish population models to improve ecological risk assessment of copper and zinc



Project description:

Environmental risk assessment and the setting of water quality criteria for metals such as zinc and copper are based on species sensitivity distributions (SSD). Despite its merits, this method also has considerable limitations, among others its low ecological realism (no species interactions, laboratory conditions) and the inclusion of a wide range of biological effects (survival, growth, reproduction). It is however unclear how these effects translate to actual effects of populations in field conditions. Regulatory authorities have named ecological modelling as one of the most-promising alternatives to improve environmental risk assessment. In this project we aim to develop population models for a selection of regulatory relevant aquatic species and apply them to the metals copper and zinc. We will use these models to enable the application of a Species Sensitivity Distribution (SSD) approach to population-level endpoints like population growth rate and population density. The overall project covers three trophic levels, i.e. algae, invertebrates and fish, but the task of the newly hired researcher will focus on fish population modeling. Our research in this project, through close collaboration with different stakeholders, will ultimately find its application in improving environmental risk assessment of metals.

Your profile:

We are looking for a highly motivated researcher with great interest in and/or very good knowledge in at least one of the following: (i) Environmental science, (ii) Ecotoxicology, (iii) Ecological modeling. The project is almost exclusively about population modeling, including calibrating models using existing (literature) data and performing scenario analysis in terms of lab-to-field extrapolation of ecotoxicity data. Thus, strong background, considerable interest and demonstrable skills in coding (e.g., R, MATLAB,…) are a prerequisite. The project is a collaboration between UGent (prof. K. De Schamphelaere) and Arche-consulting (Dr. P. Van Sprang, Dr. K. Viaene). Candidates should have (or almost have) an Ms. Sc. Diploma in a field related to the project (Environmental science, Biology, Ecology, Bio-engineering, …) and should also have a good command of English.

How to apply:

Please send an E-mail before 15 January 2018 to Karel.Deschamphelaere@ugent.be with a single attachment, containing a brief (maximum 1/2-page) motivation letter, your curriculum, proof of study results.

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