Ocean Career: Researcher in Trophic Ecology at IFREMER

A pioneer in ocean science, IFREMER’s cutting-edge research is grounded in sustainable development and open science. 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.

General areas of responsibility

Deep-sea marine ecosystems contain a high biological diversity related 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 anthropogenic impacts such as climate change but also the exploitation of their natural resources.

The scientific objectives of the recently created research unit Biology and Ecology of Deep-sea marine Ecosystems (Biologie et Ecologie des Ecosystèmes Profonds - BEEP) aim at describing and understanding the composition, structure and functioning of different deep marine ecosystems by coupling faunal and microbial studies, from communities to molecules and reciprocally, using integrated and multidisciplinary approaches. 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 these ecosystems 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 based on detrital carbon including abyssal polymetallic nodule fields, deep-sea corals and seamounts.

The functional study of the various faunal and microbial compartments aims at acquiring 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 methodological (molecular biology and bioinformatics, numerical approaches and modelling) and technological developments (especially for sampling methods and in situ measurements).

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.

Within the UMR BEEP and under the authority of the LEP repsonsible, the researcher will contribute to the laboratory's roadmap by providing knowledge on the:

  • Characterization of food webs in different deep-sea ecosystems,
  • Characterization and quantification of material fluxes within ecosystems and between organisms,
  • Characterization of functional traits of benthic organisms in deep environments.

Job purpose

Within the "Deep-Sea” laboratory, the candidate will conduct research projects aiming at understanding factors structuring the biodiversity and evaluate the ecosystem services of deep-sea biological communities. The researcher will contribute to the understanding of food webs of the different deep ecosystems studied, whether detrital or chemosynthetic. This will be achieved using common trophic markers (stable isotopes of C and N, fatty acids) but also combining them, through collaborations if necessary, with other less used tracers (sulphur stable isotopes or other elements, stable isotopes of specific compounds). The selected candidate will:

  • Contribute to enhance knowledge on matter and energy fluxes within the studied ecosystems by focusing on faunal and microbial communities (carbon/sulfur fixation).
  • Characterise potential food sources as well as their transfer within the studied networks in collaboration with biogeochemists and microbiologists within the UMR
  • Complement the observations and measurements made with ecological experimentation methods (e.g. isotopic labeling).
  • Apply different numerical approaches (mixing models, isotopic niche models, and multivariate statistics) to define and compare food webs.
  • Assess species’ ecological function through the analysis of biological traits of benthic organisms.

The researcher will study several deep ecosystems, both in sedimentary and indurated environments, actively participate to the UMR research activities and lead new research projects in line with the roadmap of the research unit. This work will be integrated in the 3 missions of Ifremer: research, support to public authorities and collaboration with industries.

Principal activites

  • Analysis and modeling of food webs with an emphasis on classical (stable isotope ratios of C and N, fatty acids) and innovative approaches (multi-element approaches, stable isotopes of specific compounds)
  • Quantification of matter fluxes in various deep-sea ecosystems through the development and implementation of experimental approaches
  • Analysis of the functional diversity of species within ecosystems
  • Students’ supervision
  • Answer call for proposals, manage new projects and collaborate with industries
  • Outreach and communication towards the general public

Required 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
  • Specific knowledge in biology: isotopic analyses, fatty acid analyses, functional traits and analytical expertise on one of the methods
  • Numerical ecology skills (R) and multivariate statistics
  • English, both spoken and written

Duty station: Brest, Bretagne, France
Application Deadline: October 3, 2022

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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