PhD Research Project: Global trends in marine biodiversity from unstructured data
Institution: University of Sheffield
Dept/School/Faculty:Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
PhD Supervisor: Dr T Webb
Application Deadline: 20 January 2014
Marine biodiversity faces many threats, including climate change, overfishing, and habitat destruction. Robust global indicators of the state of marine systems are limited to those vertebrates and those few invertebrates that have been subject to long-term monitoring programmes. The extent to which these trends reflect general patterns across all taxa is unknown. This project will use the data legacy of the Census of Marine Life, the >35M occurrence records of species from all major taxa across all marine regions stored in the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), to derive trends in marine biodiversity through time, for individual taxa and areas; and ultimately to scale these up across taxa and regions to produce a first marine equivalent of the Living Planet Index. OBIS is an amalgamation of many separate datasets all collected for different purposes, so an important component of the project will be to adapt methods used for dealing with unstructured data in other systems to unlock the potential of marine biological big data. This has the potential to contribute to global initiatives such as the UN World Ocean Assessment, the Ocean Health Index, and those planned as part of the Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
This studentship is available to UK and EU applicants only. Residency rules apply.
This PhD is part of the NERC funded Doctoral Training Partnership “ACCE” (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment). This is a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool, York, and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.