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Research Associate for the PhD project ‚Role of microzooplankton in the diets of larval fish and chaetognaths in the North Sea pelagic food-web‘ § 28 Subsection 1 HmbHG

Information on the research idea of the position:

Zooplankton are important consumers in aquatic systems that alter energy fluxes and trophic pathways in pelagic food webs. Chaetognaths and larval fish are traditionally categorized as carnivores but evidence for non-strictly carnivore feeding habits including prey at the lower food-web level have been reported. Traditional gut content analyses provide reliable estimates of hard-bodied taxa while soft-bodied prey items (e.g. protists, gelatinous zooplankton) are difficult to detect. Recent advances in molecular ecology using DNA sequence data allow the identification of predator-prey pairs based on these molecular fingerprints.

In this project, the trophic ecology of chaetognaths and larval fish in the Southern North Sea will be analysed by establishing a monthly field sampling campaign at Helgoland Roads (German Bight, North Sea) throughout the year. Molecular gut content analysis will be applied to understand the distinct role of microzooplankton in the diets of larval fish and chaetognaths during specific seasons. Obtained sequence data will be compared with existing sequence databases and molecular reference data for protist fractions and will be compiled, thus providing insights on the degree of omnivory of these consumers. The project will be conducted in collaboration with the ‘Plankton Ecology’ group at Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg (HIFMB)/Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the ‘Shelf Sea Systems Ecology’ group at AWI.

Your responsibilities

Research associates will be expected primarily to teach and conduct research. The research associate will also have the opportunity to pursue further academic qualifications, in particular a doctoral dissertation. At least one-third of set working hours will be made available for the research associate’s own academic work.

  • establish a monthly field sampling campaign for chaetognaths and larval fish at Helgoland Roads (German Bight, North Sea)
  • taxonomic identification of chaetognath and larval fish species throughout seasons
  • familiarization with existing working protocols for single-cell isolation and DNA amplification of protozoa
  • check existing reference libraries for proto- and metazoans
  • compile molecular reference data for protozooplankton from the North Sea
  • teaching obligations of 2 weekly hours per semester (Semesterwochenstunden) e.g. within the study programmes B-MARSYS and i-MARSYS
  • collaborate with other PhD candidates, Postdocs and scientists
  • supervise student projects and exchange scientific know-how
  • disseminate results in scholarly journals and at international conferences

Your profile

A university degree in a relevant field.

  • university degree in e.g. Marine Ecology, Aquatic sciences, Biological Oceanography, Limnology, Environmental Sciences, Molecular Ecology
  • experience in zooplankton taxonomy and/or ecology
  • strong interest in ecological questions
  • solid background in using molecular tools
  • solid background in bioinformatics
  • good scientific writing and computational skills
  • good oral and written English skills

We offer

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Reliable remuneration based on wage agreements
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Continuing education opportunities
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University pensions
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Attractive location
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Flexible working hours
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Work-life balance opportunities
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Health management

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Educational leave

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30 days of vacation per annum

Universität Hamburg—University of Excellence is one of the strongest research educational institutions in Germany. Our work in research, teaching, educational and knowledge exchange activities is fostering the next generation of responsible global citizens ready to tackle the global challenges facing us. Our guiding principle “Innovating and Cooperating for a Sustainable Future” drives collaboration with academic and nonacademic partner institutions in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region and around the world. We would like to invite you to be part of our community to work with us in creating sustainable and digital change for a dynamic and pluralist society.

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg promotes equal opportunity. As men are currently underrepresented in this job category at Universität Hamburg according to the evaluation conducted under the Hamburg act on gender equality (Hamburgisches Gleichstellungsgesetz, HambGleiG), we encourage men to apply for this position. Equally qualified and suitable male applicants will receive preference.

Severely disabled and disabled applicants with the same status will receive preference over equally qualified non-disabled applicants.


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