PDRA in Antarctic Molecular Ecology

Updated: 2 months ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 10 May 2022

The Role

The Department of Geography at Durham University seeks to appoint a full-time Post-Doctoral Research Associate inAntarctic Molecular Ecology to join the inter-disciplinary research team led by Professor Erin McClymont as part of the Leverhulme Trust-funded project “Unlocking evidence for Antarctic sea-ice evolution from a novel biological archive”. The post is fixed term for 3 years. The PDRA will work under the supervision of both Professor McClymont (Geography) and Profess! or Rus Ho elzel (Biosciences) at Durham University, and will collaborate with other members of the project team.

The overall Leverhulme Trust-funded project aims to reconstruct histories of Antarctic sea-ice ecosystems and environments from the Last Glacial Maximum to present, using a combination of geochemical and reconstructions of snow petrel diet, modern snow petrel observations and diet sampling, genetic evidence for changes to snow petrel diet and populations, and modelling sea ice ecosystems for the past, present and future. A parallel project funded by the European Research Council, includes additional snow petrel observation work and climate/sea ice modelling. Across the two projects, the team includes 4 PhD researchers, 3 PDRAs, and investigators at both Durham University (Geography, Biosciences) and the British Antarctic Survey.

The overall aim of this PDRA position will be to generate and interrogate genetic information for the past diets of snow petrels (Pagodroma nivea) and to examine how snow petrel colonies have changed over time. Snow petrels forage within the sea ice, but nest on exposed slopes above the Antarctic ice sheet. Their diet has been observed to change today under different sea-ice conditions but also in the past (McClymont et al., 2022, Climate of the Past) as a result of accumulated stomach-oil deposits at nesting sites. The PDRA will analyse modern snow petrel stomach oils and prey to characterise the dominant prey species in the diet, and apply ancient DNA metabarcoding analysis to the deposits in order to complement ongoing geochemical reconstructions of past diet. The PDRA will the! n use DNA preserved in both modern snow petrel samples and the stomach-oil deposits to investigate the size, structure, connectivity and changes to snow petrel colonies through time. The project has recovered samples from four geographical regions, which have some overlap, and will test the hypothesis that isolation of snow petrel colonies during times of more extended sea and land ice led to separate lines of evolution.

Please see the full list of responsibilities and person specification given below.

This post is fixed term for a maximum of 36 months; the project is time-limited and will end on 30 September 2025. Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1st September 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by Professor Erin McClymont. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1st September 2022

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