Fully Funded PhD Studentship: Modelling the effect of disease on edible crab (Cancer pagurus) populations in England and Wales
About the Project
Modelling the effect of disease on edible crab (Cancer pagurus) populations in England and Wales
The School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University in collaboration with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas- Weymouth) invites applications for a funded three-year PhD. The studentship is funded by Defra and Bangor University and includes a maintenance stipend for 3 years (UK Doctoral Stipend Rate) as well as research costs. The PhD will commence in October 2023. The student will spend time both in Weymouth and in Bangor.
Closing date for applications: 27TH August 2023
The edible crab fishery in the UK supplies over 50% of total European catch for this species. In 2019 the value of landings into the UK was £71 million, with trap-based landings supplying 31,000 tonnes of the 50,000 tonnes landed from across Europe. In recent years there have been anecdotal reports of a decline in this fishery, although reasons for this are currently unknown. A review of diseases reported within edible crab (Cancer pagurus) populations highlighted pathogens of viral, protistan, fungal and metazoan origin; a number of these being reported in UK stocks. The prevalence of these diseases is known to differ between the fished and non-fished (juvenile) part of the population, with juvenile crabs displaying a much broader range of pathogens than that observed in fished populations (adult). Investigations on diseases of adult and juvenile edible crabs will help improve our knowledge of natural mortality and recruitment. Current estimates of natural mortality are variable, and a single value is used for all regions and sizes of crabs in the assessment model, which is unlikely to be the case. A more detailed knowledge of crab disease in juveniles, pre-recruits and commercial-sized adults could provide us with regional and size-dependent estimates of mortality which can feed into the assessments and reduce uncertainty in the outputs.
Initial sampling will concentrate on two or three sites, determined by previous sampling of populations around the English coast in 2022-23. The seasonal variation and environmental parameters in disease prevalence will also be investigated. Tank studies will be conducted to investigate the pathogenicity of edible crab pathogens such as Janickina feisti and Paramikrocytos canceri to determine the effects these may have on edible crab stocks and recruitment of juveniles into the fishery. Data collected in these studies will be used to model the impacts of disease on crab stocks around the coast, provide insights into the effects of climate change in crab populations and improve natural mortality estimates that are a key parameter in crab stock assessments.
Cefas supervisors: Dr Kelly Bateman (Crustacean Health Theme Lead, Cefas) and Rosslyn McIntyre (Shellfish Scientist, Cefas)
University of Bangor supervisors: Dr Natalie Hold (Lecturer in Sustainable Fisheries, SOS) and Professor Shelagh Malham (Professor in Marine Biology, SOS)
We are looking for a self-motivated, organised and committed individual who has a strong interest in fisheries and aquatic disease. This studentship is offered to Home/UK students only (this includes EU nationals that hold UK settled or pre-settled status)
- First or Upper Second-Class undergraduate degree or taught Master’s degree or equivalent in a relevant subject (e.g. Marine Biology, Fisheries, Disease)
- Be able to undertake estuarine, intertidal and offshore seagoing fieldwork
- Highly motivated with interest in multi-disciplinary approaches
- Evidence of undertaking statistical analysis or modelling
- Evidence of computer literacy across commonly used programmes such as Microsoft Excel, R (or similar such as Python), Microsoft Word.
- Be methodical and organised, able to work under pressure and prioritise workload to meet deadlines
- Be able to work well independently and as part of a team
- Excellent written and spoken communication skills in English. If your first language is not English, you will need to meet the minimum English requirements for the programme (IELTS score of 6.0).
- Experience of undertaking a research project within a relevant field
- Experience in relevant laboratory skills such histology and molecular biology.
Cefas, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Science, is an Executive Agency of Defra (the UK Government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). Through innovative solutions and world leading applied science we work to ensure a sustainable future for our rivers, seas and the ocean, supporting healthy and productive marine and freshwater ecosystem
Bangor University, firmly rooted in the beautiful location of North Wales, was established in 1884. The university leadership has a strong focus on contributing to a sustainable world for future generations. The College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering represents one of the largest concentrations of interdisciplinary environmental and natural resource scientists in UK universities. Research in the college is organised into five cross-cutting themes: Sustainable Food Production; One Health; Earth Systems Science and Renewable Energy; Conservation and Restoration of Resilient Ecosystems; and Sustainable Manufacturing. In the recent Research Excellence Framework, we were ranked 1st in the UK for the impact of our research in earth systems and environmental sciences.
The School of Ocean Sciences (SOS) within this college has a world-class reputation in research and teaching. Our research is marked by an interdisciplinary approach, which is vital to tackle the world’s most pressing and complex challenges, including global environmental change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and unsustainable use of natural resources and energy.
How to Apply
Equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) is critical to maintaining excellence and is integral to the running of our research programme. Our EDI-friendly selection process aims for a fair recruitment process without the bias of gender, race, age and disability to ensure that selections are made based on aptitude and academic merit of applicants.
All applications must be received on the 27TH August 2023 by 00:00 (midnight) UK time through our online application system. Short listed applicants will be invited to interview, which are expected to take place in the week commencing 4TH September 2023. The successful applicant will then be expected to commence in October 2023.
Applications must contain the following documents:
1. Curriculum Vitae giving details of your education, employment and research experience to date. This should be no longer than two pages.
2. Cover letter (no longer than two pages) including your motivation for applying for this studentship, what excites you about the project, aspirations beyond completing a PhD, how you fit the essential and desirable criteria and any reasons that you feel are particularly suited to undertaking this project.
3. Names and contact details (email addresses) of two referees.