Two PhD studentships in Aquatic Community Ecology

Biology, Concordia University, Fall 2019
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Applications are invited for two fully funded studentships on research towards understanding and predicting the structure of aquatic ecological communities.

We are seeking students interested in understanding the broad-scale processes structuring aquatic ecological communities.  Because aquatic ecosystems are widely recognized for providing many features valued by humans, the proposed research also aims at generating scientific knowledge to improve conservation and management strategies. The research will be largely based on quantitative developments that will be validated using existing large-scale empirical datasets.  The specifics of the project will be determined jointly by the successful candidate, supervisors and collaborators (see below).

PhD studentship 1 – The mechanisms underlying the co-existence of lake-fish.   Although there is much need to establish the links between different dimensions of biodiversity (such as species richness, functional diversity, phylogenetic diversity) and ecosystem services such as fish biomass that are important to human societies, this knowledge is still quite sparse.  The goal of this studentship is to study the linkages between variation in species attributes (traits, phylogenies, physiology) and environmental characteristics of lakes, to understand and predict patterns of species co-occurrence and biomass distribution.

PhD studentship 2 – Predicting abundance and biomass from presence-absence species distributions. There is a long history in ecology on predicting abundance from presence-absence data. Species abundances are central to understanding the more complex processes underlying ecological communities. Moreover, being able to predict patterns of species abundance and biomass across landscapes is central to conservation and managing ecosystem services. The goal of this studentship is to generate improved models for predicting species abundances and biomass, and to understand the ecological principles that allow to understand the conditions in which predictions are improved.     

Collaborative Research – The positions will be part of a collaborative research involving Dylan Fraser (Concordia Univ. Research Chair in Population Biodiversity and Conservation), Eric Pedersen (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), Pedro R. Peres-Neto (Canada Research Chair in Spatial Ecology and Biodiversity), Nigel Lester and Brian Shuter (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry), Ken Minns (Fisheries and Oceans Canada & University of Toronto) and Donald Jackson (University of Toronto.  Students will be members of the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Studies (https://qcbs.ca/) and be considered to become fellows of the NSERC-funded training program in Computational Biodiversity Science and Services.  

Requirements – Key requirements include a solid quantitative background, familiarity with programming using modern quantitative software (such as R, Python, or MATLAB), and strong understanding of community ecology or related fisheries and aquatic sciences pertinent to the research focus.

Application – If you are interested in graduate study within this exciting program please send a current CV, unofficial transcripts, and contact information for three academic/research references to Pedro Peres-Neto (pedro.peres-neto@concordia.ca).  We are recruiting for students to begin in September 2019, but flexibility may be possible.