Ecological Biogeochemist


Job reference: BAS 37/17
Salary: In the range of 28,200 to 30,600 per annum
Location: Cambridge
Closing date: 9 April, 2017 9:01 am

Description

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS), part of the Natural Environment Research Council, aims to undertake a world-class programme of scientific research, and to sustain for the UK an active and influential regional presence and a leadership role in Antarctic affairs.

We are seeking an ecological biogeochemist to lead and develop of key areas of research into the contribution of pelagic communities to carbon and nutrient flux in Polar Regions. BAS has a world class reputation in considering the role of polar organisms within biogeochemical cycles and will be making a major contribution to two grant funded projects considering different aspects of this research area in the Arctic and Southern Ocean (DIAPOD and COMICS). The candidate will participate in the field campaigns of both programmes, coordinating the sampling and experimental plan and leading subsequent sample analyses. The programmes will collect samples of water and pelagic organisms through deployment of numerous devices, from which live material and egested products will be extracted for incubation and preservation. These efforts will be combined with analyses of net and acoustic data to determine behavioural patterns and of satellite ocean colour data to determine food fields, particularly in terms of fatty acid composition. The candidate will apply appropriate techniques to determine the chemical and elemental composition of sampled material. They will also be expected to build quantitative models to predict levels of carbon and nutrient flux as functions of major oceanographic variables such as temperature and chlorophyll-a concentration. They will present findings at consortium meetings and international conferences and publish in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The postholder will undertake and lead the development of research in the biogeochemical role of pelagic organisms: they will measure key physiological variables, analyse patterns of behaviour, determine the fate of respired, excreted and egested products and build quantitative predictive models of the flux of matter to the ocean interior.

Key areas of research will include:

  • Design sampling and experimental plans for research campaigns and implement the sampling strategy as part of a scientific team
  • Carry out field based incubations to measure respiration, excretion and egestion of key polar pelagic organisms as a function of major variables such as temperature and food quality and quantity
  • Examine egested products in terms of carbon mass and chemical composition using EDX scanning electron microscopy, gas chromatography and mass spectrometry
  • Analyse net and acoustic data to determine vertical migration behaviour of key taxa
  • Calibrate satellite images of ocean colour against field measurements of the fatty acid classes of major phytoplankton species.
  • Build models quantifying the carbon flux on the pelagic community, including functional responses to temperature and food availability and potentially also considering levels of ice-cover and acidification

This is an exciting opportunity to be a key member of a world class scientific team delivering science for two major research efforts in the polar oceans (DIAPOD and COMICS). The postholder will work as part of the BAS Ecosystems Team, which includes scientists involved in studies of zooplankton and fish life-cycles, pelagic community ecology, higher predator the feeding and population ecology of predator species (especially fish, seabirds and seals) and fishery management. They will also be key members of the DIAPOD and COMICS consortia, in which they will be one of the main representatives of BAS in field campaigns and scientific meetings.

Purpose

To lead the delivery of the main scientific contributions of BAS to the grant funded field programmes COMICS and DIAPOD to consider the role of surface and midwater pelagic organisms to the flux of nutrients and carbon to the ocean interior. The postholder will participate on a number of scientific cruises in the Arctic and Southern Ocean and be responsible for the collection of field samples using a range of water sampling and netsampling devices.

They will carry out on-board incubations of live organisms and their detrital matter. Measurements of gut flux, respiration and excretion will be made in controlled conditions whilst on board. Use of acoustic devices and net sampling will be made to determine vertical migration behaviour of key taxa. Further analyses in the home aboratory will measure carbon mass and stable isotope composition of the organisms and their egested products, as well as the physical structure and elemental makeup these products using EDX scanning electron microscopy. The postholder will also analyse the relationship between species distributions and metrics of food availability, using parameters derived from satellite ocean-colour data. Calibrations to the chemical composition of these food-fields will be made to determine its potential lipid-class composition. The postholder will develop quantitative models of the contribution of polar pelagic organisms to carbon and nutrient flux that are responsive to variation and change in major polar ocean parameters, such as temperature, ice cover, primary productivity and levels of acidification.

Qualification

PhD in Marine Biology, Biological Oceanography or related subject area (e.g. zoology, fisheries science)(or equivalent)

Duties

The postholder will take the lead in delivering major aspects of the BAS contribution to the grant funded polar research programmes COMICS and DIAPOD

Key areas of research will include:

  • Coordinate the BAS contribution to the fieldwork programmes running in the Southern Ocean and the Arctic in terms of logistical arrangements and equipment.
  • Design sampling and experimental plans for each of the research campaigns
  • Implement the sampling strategy as part of a scientific team
  • Carry out field based incubations to measure respiration, excretion and egestion of key polar pelagic organisms as a function of major variables such as temperature and food quality and quantity
  • Examine the egested products in terms of carbon mass and sinking potential
  • Carry out fatty acid and stable isotope measurements of key taxa and their major food items
  • Analyse net and acoustic data to determine vertical migration behaviour of key taxa
  • Examine chemical composition and structure of egested products using EDX scanning electron microscopy
  • Calibrate satellite images of ocean colour against field measurements of the fatty acid classes of major phytoplankton species
  • Build models quantifying the carbon flux on the pelagic community, including functional responses to temperature and food availability and potentially also considering levels of ice-cover and acidification

On-line application forms and further information are available on our website at www.bas.ac.uk/jobs

These are also available from the Human Resources Section, British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET. Tel: (01223) 221508.

Please quote reference: BAS 37/17 Closing date for receipt of application forms is: 9th April 2017 Interviews are scheduled to be held on: 28th April 2017 Start Date: 1st August 2017

We welcome applications from all sections of the community. People from ethnic minorities are currently under-represented and their applications are particularly welcome.

You will need to be physically capable and medically fit to work in Arctic/Antarctic conditions.

published: 10 March 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.