Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Fjord biodiversity

Project

Putting fjord biodiversity on the map for British Columbia conservation planning

Applications are invited for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship (PDF) at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, to apply eDNA to studying pelagic biodiversity in British Columbia fjords.

The significance of fjords as critical coastal habitat and biodiversity hotspots
Fjords have been recognized as Aquatic Critical Zones for their disproportionate role in coastal ecosystem processes. British Columbia (BC) has one of the largest tracts of temperate fjord habitats on earth, with these ecosystems being a characteristic feature of the coastal zone. They are known to be essential habitat for a wide array of invertebrate and fish communities, including ecologically, culturally, and economically important species such as salmon, eulachon, and capelin, and to harbor unique communities found nowhere else on the coast. Yet fjord ecosystems remain chronically understudied by western science. Furthermore, while the recent establishment of the Átl’ka7tsem Howe Sound Biosphere Region (https://www.howesoundbri.org/) is an acknowledgement of the importance of fjord habitat, they continue to receive limited protection in BC. This is particularly concerning given their vulnerability to climate change and other human impacts. This project, a collaboration between the University of British Columbia and Hakai Institute, aims to provide essential baseline information on fjord biodiversity in BC through sampling of environmental (e)DNA, that will raise awareness of the role of fjords as critical habitats and refugia, and guide conservation needs and strategies, including marine spatial planning. The PDF will have access to existing eDNA samples collected in Bute and Rivers inlets, as well as reference samples from non-fjord habitats along the BC coast. In addition, the PDF will contribute to collection of new samples in representative southern and central BC coast fjords, that cover seasonal and spatial gradients.

Project Goals:

Develop a baseline biodiversity database for BC fjords using eDNA; Resolve horizontal, vertical and seasonal distributions of species in fjord habitats; Inform the role of fjords as critical habitat; Optimize field and laboratory framework for eDNA monitoring of fjord ecosystems.

Postdoctoral responsibilities

  • Design and implement field surveys working with UBC and Hakai scientists;
  • Co-lead stakeholder workshop to communicate project objectives and solicit feedback on current state of knowledge and knowledge gaps at start of project, Coordinate and contribute to laboratory analysis of fjord eDNA samples;

  • Bioinformatics, interpretation of data, and communication of results to a broad spectrum of end-users, including through workshop and conference presentations, and peer-reviewed manuscripts;
  • Co-lead final workshop to communicate findings, present approach to monitoring, and solicit feedback from stakeholders on refining reproducible methodology for fjord biodiversity monitoring;
  • Technical report or peer-reviewed methods paper on standardized methodology for fjord eDNA surveys.

Ideal qualifications:

  • A PhD (completed by the time of appointment) in molecular ecology with a focus on eDNA, or equivalent;
    Demonstrated experience in marine ecology;
  • Demonstrated high-level skills in genomics and bioinformatics;
  • Demonstrated R and/or Matlab computing skills, use of scripting languages (e.g., Python), or working in a Unix environment will be advantageous; Field and laboratory experience;
  • Capacity to lead projects with collaborators, excellent communication skills, and demonstrated ability to finish projects on time.

Location

The candidate will be based at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (http://oceans.ubc.ca/), University of British Columbia. The candidate will be expected to spend time at the Hakai Institute field station and laboratories on Quadra Island (https://www.hakai.org/quadra/)

The applicant needs to be legally entitled to work in Canada.

Application

Application closure date: August 20th, 2022.
Start date: October 1st, 2022
Position Length: Two years, pending annual review;
Salary: $58,000 + benefits

Applicants must submit:

  • A CV, including the e-mail and phone numbers for three references;
  • A short cover 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 3 published papers, if available;
  • Confirmation of ability to work in Canada.

The applicant must to be legally entitled to work in Canada.

Submit applications to: Dr Brian Hunt (b.hunt@oceans.ubc.ca).

Equity and diversity are essential for academic excellence. An open and diverse community fosters the inclusion of voices that have been underrepresented or discouraged. We encourage applications from members of groups that have been marginalized on any grounds enumerated under the B.C. Human Rights Code, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, racialization, disability, political belief, religion, marital or family status, age, and/or status as a First Nations, Metis, Inuit, or Indigenous person.