2018: PhD opportunity: Assessing MPA efficacy and adaptive management of the common skate

Assessing MPA efficacy and adaptive management of the common skate: integrating population genomics, tagging and modelling to determine connectivity, abundance & recruitment

Supervisors: Catherine S Jones (University of Aberdeen c.s.jones@abdn.ac.uk ), Peter Wright (Marine Scotland, Aberdeen P.J.Wright@marlab.ac.uk ) & David Donnan (Scottish Natural Heritage)

 The flapper skate (Dipturus intermedius) once abundant in European waters, suffered heavy fishing pressure in the last century, and is now effectively extinct throughout the majority of the North and Irish Seas. It was determined this critically endangered (IUCN) species, a Scottish Priority Marine Feature (PMF), would benefit from establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The ‘Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura’ MPA in West Scotland was designated in 2014 to protect the flapper skate, as this area has a higher than normal density of mature skates, with recent tagging suggesting a mix of residents (site ­attached) and transients. Determining the efficacy and status (source or sink) of the current MPA population(s), and connectivity via contemporary gene flow with flapper skate at other locations, is of paramount importance to management plans aiming to maintain viable populations and affirm current and potential MPA placement. This project will involve the use of population genomics, integrated with recently collected MPA focused tagging data, and modelling to address the following questions. Does the MPA encompass recruitment areas? Is philopatry (return to natal sites) or site fidelity evident? Do adult abundance and productivity estimates suggest viable Scottish populations? Will current management measures sustain connectivity and viability?

 Application deadline 16th July 2018.

For full details go to: https://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=98876

Dr. Catherine S Jones,
Senior Lecturer,
Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences,
School of Biological Sciences,
University of Aberdeen,
Zoology Building,
Tillydrone Avenue,
Aberdeen, AB24 2TZ, Scotland, UK