Ocean Career: Benthic Ecologist at IFREMER

A pioneer in ocean science, IFREMER’s cutting-edge research is grounded in sustainable development and open science. Our vision is to advance science, expertise and innovation to:

  • Protect and restore the ocean
  • Sustainably use marine resources to benefit society
  • Create and share ocean data, information & knowledge.

With more than 1,500 personnel spread along the French coastline in more than 20 sites, the Institute explores the 3 great oceans: the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. A leader in ocean science, IFREMER is managing the French Oceanographic Fleet and its dedicated scientists create ground-breaking technology to push the boundaries of ocean exploration and knowledge, from the abyss to the atmosphere-ocean interface.

Well-established in the international scientific community, our scientists, engineers and technicians are committed to advance knowledge about our planet’s last unexplored frontiers. They provide the science we need for informed decision-making and public policy and they transfer this knowledge and technology to businesses to fulfill public and private needs. Core to our mission is also to strengthen public awareness about the importance of understanding the ocean and its resources, and empowering future generations of leaders through education and outreach national campaigns.

Founded in 1984, IFREMER is a French public organization and its budget approximates 240 million euros. It is operating under the joint authority of the French Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the French Ministry for the Ecological and Solidary Transition, and the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food.


Deep-sea marine ecosystems contain a high biological diversity linked to the heterogeneity of benthic environments. The structure and dynamics of these ecosystems in their natural state are still poorly understood, yet they are the subject of increasing interest for the exploitation of their natural resources.

The Deep-sea Ecosystems research unit develops research projects meant to acquire knowledge on the functioning and dynamics of these ecosystems at different spatial and temporal scales. To do so the research unit focuses on faunal and microbial communities, in order to offer solutions that will ensure sustainable exploitation of the mineral and biological resources they harbour.

Our research focuses on chemosynthetic-based ecosystems, such as hydrothermal vents on oceanic ridges and cold seeps on active or passive continental margins, as well as deep-sea environments which food webs are bases on detrital carbon such as abyssal plains, polymetallic nodule fields, deep-sea corals and more recently seamounts.

The functional study of the various faunal and microbial compartments aims to acquire knowledge on the life cycle, recruitment and colonisation, symbioses, species adaptation, food web and metabolisms involved in the various biological processes. The influence of biotic, abiotic and stochastic factors on the structuring of communities is central to the issues addressed. This research requires the pursuit of methodological developments (molecular biology and bioinformatics, numerical approaches and modelling) and technological developments (especially for sampling methods and measurement in situ).

The understanding of ecosystems natural functioning will serve as a basis for specific studies on the assessment of human-induced impacts on the deep ocean, particularly those linked to the potential exploitation of mineral resources. This understanding will be based in particular on modelling and experimental ecology approaches to be developed (in situ, in vivo, mesocosm...). These research activities contribute to the national and international effort to explore and acquire new knowledge on deep-sea ecosystems.

Deep Sea Environment Laboratory and Microbiology of Extreme Environments laboratory (UMR6197) composed Deep-Sea Ecosystems research unit (EEP) within the Department of Physical Resources and Deep-Sea Ecosystems (REM).

Within Deep-Sea Ecosystems research unit (EEP) and under the authority of the Deep Sea Lab (LEP) manager, the research scientist will be involved in the research areas of the laboratory.


Within the "Deep-Sea” laboratory, the candidate conducts research projects to get a better understanding of the biodiversity and evaluate the ecosystem services of deep-sea biological communities. He/she takes part in tasks that aimed at developing and implementing strategies to study deep-sea benthic ecosystems potentially impacted by the exploitation of marine mineral resources.

  • He/she contributes in the exploration and understanding of deep-sea mining target areas to establish a baseline of faunal communities.
  • He/she determines the fauna/habitat relationships and evaluates the consequences of modifications linked to the exploitation activities by experimental approaches in the laboratory or in the natural environment.
  • He/she evaluates the risks of resources exploitation on biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and services.
  • He/she evaluates the resilience capacity of ecosystems after disruption.
  • He/she helps with strategies proposals for the protection, conservation and management of environments likely to be exploited.
  • He/she assists Ifremer in providing the knowledge necessary to fulfil the obligations related to the mining permits delivered by the International Seabed Authority and to the interactions with the latter.
  • He/she will ensure a scientific watch on mineral resources in deep-sea environments.

The profile of the position to be filled is open. The candidate, with strong skills in benthic ecology and experience of deep-sea ecosystems will be selected based on the relevance and originality of the project and strategies he/she will present. In line with the orientations of the laboratory, the Unit and the Department concerning the study of deep-sea benthic ecosystems likely to be impacted by the exploitation of mineral resources.


Knowledge, skills, and characteristics

  • PhD in marine biology or equivalent
  • Post-doc experience required
  • The candidate must have spent a significant part or all of his/her career abroad

Technical skills and knowledge:

  • Strong skills in benthic ecology
  • Knowledge of molecular tools and taxonomy
  • Numerical ecology skills (R)
  • Experience in deep-sea sampling desired
  • Perfect command of English, both spoken and written

Personal qualities:

  • Proactive and dynamic
  • Rigour, perseverance, autonomy
  • Open-mindedness, interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work as a team and at sea
  • Scientific and technical curiosity, ability to evolve and train yourself and others
  • Ability to synthesise and valorise results / write publications.

Deadline for applications: April 19, 2021
Location: Brest, Bretagne, France

Find out more information about this position and how to apply.

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