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Offre de poste : PhD position in Phytoplankton single-cell properties and implications for zooplankton dynamics

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I would like to draw you attention to this interesting PhD position. I would appreciate if you could forward this offer to your students and colleagues.

PhD student, section Shelf Sea System Ecology at the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland

Code : 105/D/Bio
Faculty : Bachelor/Master Thesis
Job type : Full time
Location : Helgoland

The Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) is a member of the Helmholtz Association (HGF) and funded by federal and state government. AWI focuses on polar and marine research in a variety of disciplines such as biology, oceanography, geology, geochemistry and geophysics thus allowing multidisciplinary approaches to scientific goals.

The section Shelf Sea System Ecology at the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, Germany, invites applications for the position of a

PhD student

This position is part of the newly BMBF-funded project PlanktoSERV in the junior working group led by Dr. Cédric Meunier. The aim of this working group is to realistically assess the impact of simultaneous changes in abiotic parameters on plankton communities and to provide a robust understanding of future ecosystem services alterations.

Background :
In order to optimize nutrient uptake and light acquisition, different phytoplankton species have opted for different strategies resulting in large interspecific variability in size, shape, and motility. Intraspecific variability also exists, and it has for example been shown that different strains of one species can also differ in a range of parameters including cell size, swimming speed, and biochemical and elemental composition. However, despite its potential significance for trophic interactions, variability between individual phytoplankton cells has not yet been characterized. In fact, it has largely been ignored, and almost all of the researchers working on herbivore-alga interactions implicitly assume that all of the food particles used in experiments are of identical quality. This project aims at filling these gaps by determining the degree of intercellular qualitative variability experienced by micro- and mesozooplankton ; investigating whether variability in phytoplankton cell size, nutritional value, and motility is predictably affected by abiotic parameters ; and testing how micro- and mesozooplankton respond to prey quality variability. These enhancements of conceptual understanding are highly needed in order to predict consequences of altered abiotic conditions in coastal ecosystems in the context of human-driven global change.

Tasks :
Your scientific tasks will be to conduct laboratory experiments with phytoplankton and zooplankton in order to (1) investigate to which extent variability in phytoplankton cell size, nutritional value, and motility is affected by changes in abiotic parameters (2) quantify the degree of intercellular qualitative variability of the food experienced by micro- and mesozooplankton under different global change scenarios, and (3) test how micro- and mesozooplankton respond to individual prey quality variability. These experiments will be conducted on Helgoland in collaboration with Prof. M. Boersma. While size can be easily measured with traditional microscopic tools, motility will be studied using high-speed high-quality video imaging. The biochemical composition of individual phytoplankton cells will be measured using LDI-MS in the laboratory of Prof. G. Pohnert (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena) and Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) on Helgoland with Dr. G. Gerdts and Dr. S. Primpke. You will also gain supervising experience by working together with bachelor and master students and will be given the opportunity to present scientific results at international conferences.

Requirements :
We are looking for a highly motivated and driven individual with excellent practical skills.

-a Master degree (or equivalent) in Aquatic Sciences
- a strong background in Aquatic Ecology/Marine Biology
working experience in plankton ecophysiology, flow cytometry, grazing experiments, plankton culturing
- strong team player skills
- strong cooperation and communication skills in English language written and oral

For more information, please contact Dr. Cédric Meunier (E-Mail :, Phone +49(0)4725 819 3361).

The position is limited to 3 years. The salary will be paid in accordance with the German Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes (TVöD Bund), salary level 13 (66%). The place of employment will be on Helgoland.

We offer you a multi-disciplinary, international, and fascinating professional environment with flexible working hours, state-of-the-art research equipment, and a first-rate infrastructure.

Disabled applicants will be given preference when equal qualifications are present. The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family through various means. Because of our engagement in the area of work-life compatibility we have been awarded the certificate “Career and Family”.

As Ph.D. student at AWI you will be member of the Helmholtz Graduate School for Polar and Marine Research ‘POLMAR’ ( or another graduate school.

Please forward your applications with the standard documentation (letter of motivation, CV, publication list if applicable) by August 2nd, 2017 referencing code 105/D/Bio to : Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Personalabteilung (human resources), Postfach 12 01 61, 27515 Bremerhaven/Germany or by e-mail (all documents merged into one PDF file) to :


Dr. Cédric Meunier

Alfred Wegener Institute
Ostkaje 1118
27498 Helgoland

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