PhD. Candidate for project “Bathypelagic”

We are looking for candidates interested in conducting a PhD thesis investigating several aspects of the biology and distribution of meso and bathypelagic micronekton. Particular emphasis will be devoted to the development of new methodologies to determine their abundances, and to the study their vertical migrations in relation to physical and biological conditions. The work of the thesis will be framed within the project "Bathypelagic" (see abstract below) and it will be conducted in the Instituto Español de Oceanografía (Centro de Baleares), with periods in the Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) in Barcelona and IOCAG in the Canary Islands. The candidates should also be able to participate in oceanographic cruises. Spanish citizenship or Spanish spoken is not required but ability to read and fill in documents in Spanish is necessary.


The candidate should have a degree in sciences (marine sciences, biology, physics, chemistry, or similar), a master degree preferably in oceanography, fisheries or marine biology, and she/he should be admitted in a PhD program. The candidate will work in the assessment of micronekton taxonomy, abundances, and metabolism using different tools such as in situ sampling through trawls, and acoustics. Because part of the study is related to the development of fisheries acoustics techniques, knowledge of acoustics, image processing, machine learning and computational programing languages (preferably Matlab) will be positively evaluated.

Academic record, experience in the subject, and good skills in English language will be valued. Send a short motivation letter (in English) and the Curriculum Vitae as soon as possible to the contact persons below.

PhD Advisors

Dr. P. Olivar. Institute de Ciènces del Mar (ICM-CSIC), Barcelona. Net sampling and biology.
Dr. M. Peña, Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO),
Palma, Mallorca. Fisheries acoustics.
Dr. S. Hernández-León, Instituto de Oceanografía y Cambio Global (IOCAG), Gran Canaria, Canary Islands. Project PI and metabolism.

Abstract of Bathypelagic project

Sequestration, in contrast to export, is a mechanism of the biological pump in the ocean occurring when carbon cannot return to the atmosphere in at least 100 years, normally the carbon transported below 1000 m depth. Particulate organic carbon is remineralized on its way through the water column by prokaryotes and pelagic fauna. A fraction of these animals are vertical migrants feeding at shallow ocean layers and releasing carbon at depth through respiration, defecation, excretion, molting, lipid consumption and mortality, also supporting deep-sea food webs. Knowledge about this transport in the mesopelagic layer is growing. However, the role of the pelagic fauna to fuel the bathypelagic zone, the layer where effective carbon sequestration occurs, is largely unknown. Here we propose to study this flux based on a review of zooplankton biomass in the epi-, meso- and bathypelagic zones, as obtained by net samples, showing a relationship with primary production, and denoting carbon transport to deeper layers. Carbon sequestration assessed only from conservative estimates of zooplankton mortality in the 1000-2000 m layer was in the order of recent estimates of passive carbon sequestration. These estimates were also correlated with large-scale estimates of primary production, implying the transference of a significant fraction of primary production from the epipelagic to the deep ocean. These results point at a pivotal role of the pelagic fauna in carbon sequestration as other mechanisms of active flux (respiration, defecation, lipid consumption and excretion) by zooplankton and micronekton, including deeper layers (>2000 m depth), should also be considered. The objective of this project is to assess gut, respiratory, lipid and excretory fluxes below the permanent thermocline. Preliminary results raises the question of whether an enrichment in the upper layers is transported downward, and whether we are heavily underestimating carbon sequestration in the ocean. The assessment of active flux through the bathypelagic jointly with passive flux will produce for the first time complete values of carbon sequestration in the ocean.

FPI 2017 call (in Spanish):

Frequently asked question (in English) from a previous call: