Postdoctoral Position-Plankton

Parameterizing The Plankton Food-Web Support System For Juvenile Salmon And Herring In The Strait Of Georgia

Position description:

Zooplankton are the principal dietary items for juvenile salmon and herring, and changes in plankton communities are key factors limiting these fishes’ growth and survival. How plankton respond to changes in the ocean’s physical and chemical conditions is largely mediated by the complex interactions between phytoplankton, microzooplankton, and zooplankton. The objectives of this project are to:

  1. Determine plankton food-web pathways to juvenile salmon and herring in the Strait of Georgia (SoG);
  2. Determine the spatial and temporal variability of plankton food-web structure in the SoG, and the response of this structure to environmental conditions;
  3. Quantify the nutritional value of plankton species as prey, and the importance of plankton food-web pathways in the transfer of essential nutrients and energy to juvenile salmon and herring;
  4. Develop biochemical plankton indicators that can be routinely measured and made available to improve salmon and herring stock recruitment forecasting.

To meet these objectives the candidate will apply biochemical approaches (bulk and compound specific isotope analysis; fatty acids) to a case study in the SoG. The SoG supports the largest salmon and herring populations in British Columbia. Currently there are multiple initiatives conducting research into declines of salmon in the SoG and recruitment drivers of juvenile herring. These include the Salish Sea Marine Survival program (, the Hakai Institute ( Juvenile Salmon and Ocean Observatory programs, and collaborating programs at the University of British Columbia and Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The candidate will be expected to participate in and collaborate with these ongoing field programs to collect plankton and fish samples for this study, and will additionally have access to archived samples from 2015-2016. In addition, the candidate is expected to work with concurrent ecosystem modelling efforts, specifically through providing a regionally specific food-web framework to guide coupling of the physical, chemical and biological model components.


Location: The candidate will be based at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (, University of British Columbia.
Start date: Immediate
Position Length: Two years
Salary: CA$50,000 / year + benefits


  • A PhD in biological oceanography, fisheries biology, food web ecology, or equivalent;
  • Knowledge of plankton food web ecology;
  • Experience in stable isotope and fatty acid ecology;
  • A quantitative background with experience in multivariate statistics and isotope mixing models preferred;
  • Demonstrated R and/or Matlab computing skills will be advantageous;
  • Field and laboratory experience;
  • Ability to independently manage a large multi-faceted project.

The candidate will be part of a large SoG network, and is expected to work collaboratively.


Applicants should submit:

  • a CV, including the e-mail and phone numbers for three references;
  • a short letter (1 page) explaining the applicant’s motivation for working on the project and how previous experience qualifies them for this position;
  • a copy of the PhD thesis;
  • reprints of published papers, if available;
  • confirmation of ability to work in Canada.

Submit application to:

Dr Brian Hunt (