[MARMAM] fully funded PhD project focusing on marine mammal conservation and shifting baselines

Kristin Kaschner Kristin.Kaschner at biologie.uni-freiburg.de
Fri Oct 7 02:36:10 PDT 2011

Hi there

a project that I am involved in is looking for 
candidates interested in a fully-funded PhD 
project focusing on large scale marine mammal 
conservation issues and shifting baselines. For more information, see below.




  Human impact on the global patterns of
marine mammal distribution and abundance
Overview: This 3-year, fully funded, PhD project, 
will quantify the impact of historical human 
activities on the global patterns of diversity 
and abundance of marine mammal species. It will 
be based at the Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionelle et 
Evolutive, Montpellier, France, supervised by Ana 
Rodrigues. Application deadline: 31 October.
Key words: marine ecosystems, marine mammals, 
macroecology, species distribution models, 
sustainable management, shifting baselines
We live in a human dominated planet, and the 
oceans are no exception. Through a combination of 
a growing population, mounting consumption and 
waste, and increasingly sophisticated 
technologies, human activities now impact all 
marine ecosystems, from the deep-sea to coral 
reefs, to remote islands, to the open ocean. 
Whereas these changes are accelerating, 
significant human impacts on marine systems 
started millennia ago. Yet because such changes 
took place gradually and with little recorded 
evidence, the full scale of the cumulative human 
impact on marine systems has only recently begun 
to be understood through anecdotal historical 
records showing evidence of past seas of 
spectacular abundance. This case of collective 
amnesia by the progressive adjustment to 
increasingly impoverished ecosystems has been 
termed the ‘shifting baseline’. It affects not 
only scientific and popular perception of what 
natural ecosystems look like in terms of species 
composition and abundance, but also narrows our 
perception of the options available for the future.
This project will investigate the extent to which 
the introduction of an historical perspective 
affects perceptions of past human impact, 
projections of future change, the goals, targets 
and options considered, and ultimately the 
recommendations for conservation and management 
of marine natural resources. This will be done 
through the lens of marine mammals, a 
particularly interesting group given their strong 
and long relationship with humans, from 
millennia-old cave-art, to the near-obliteration 
of some species through commercial exploitation, 
to the emotional attachment felt even by many who 
have never been in direct contact with these 
species. Furthermore, some of these species have 
important roles in shaping ecosystems, and 
despite their charisma many remain very poorly known.
Objectives and methods
This project will quantify the impact of 
historical human activities on the patterns of 
diversity and abundance in marine mammal species, 
as a basis for conservation and management strategies at the global scale.
Specifically, the project will:
- Review and synthesise information on the 
historical and current distribution of all marine 
mammal species, both from existing datasets and 
by compiling scattered data from the ecological, 
archaeological, zooarchaeological, and historical literatures.
- Participate in the development of statistical 
models for predicting the current and historical 
global distribution of marine mammal species.

- Quantify and map the impact of historical 
global change on patterns of diversity of marine 
mammal species, using Geographic Information Systems.
- Participate in the development of a 
multidisciplinary reflection of the goals, 
targets and options for the conservation and 
management of marine mammals within a human-dominated planet.
- Contribute to the dissemination of the results 
of this project to a wide and diverse audience 
comprising scientists, stakeholders and the wide public.

Candidate profile
The successful candidate will possess:
- A solid academic background in ecology.
- A rigorous and detail-oriented approach to work 
with an aptitude for exploring and analysing historical datasets.
- Strong analytical skills, including knowledge 
or capacity to learn GIS and programming skills 
(for example in R) for the manipulation and 
analyses of large spatial datasets.
- Good interpersonal skills needed for working as 
part of a large team, and for coordinating 
multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional meetings 
involving scientists and stakeholders.
- Good command of the English language.

Institutional context
This PhD is a part of the ANR-funded MORSE 
project: “Management of Ocean Resources under 
Shifting Expectations - bringing the historical 
perspective into marine mammal conservation”. The 
MORSE project is a partnership between the Centre 
d’Ecologie Fonctionelle et Evolutive (CEFE CNRS 
UMR5175; www.cefe.cnrs.fr), the Institut de 
Recherche pour le Développement (David Kaplan, 
IRD UMR212, www.umr-eme.org/), and the laboratory 
Ecologie des systèmes marins côtiers (Fabien 
Leprieur, ECOSYM CNRS UMR5119, 
http://www.ecosym.univ-montp2.fr), with the 
collaboration of a network of international partners.
The student will be supervised by Ana Rodrigues 
based at the CEFE, and affiliated with the 
SIBAGHE Doctoral School, Université Montpellier 2 
Gross income is about 1700€. The student will be 
hired under a doctoral contract that includes 
pension and health benefits. The PhD will start 
the 1st of December 2011 or as soon as possible afterwards.
Application procedure
Please send a detailed CV, course grades from 
most recent academic work, letter of motivation, 
and name and contacts (email and phone number) of 
two or more researchers capable of assessing your 
competence for this position via email to 
ana.rodrigues at cefe.cnrs.fr by the 31 October 2011.

Kristin Kaschner, Ph.D.
Evolutionary Biology & Ecology Lab
Institute of Biology I (Zoology)
Freiburg, Germany

ph: ++ 49 178 547 7760
email: Kristin.Kaschner at biologie.uni-freiburg.de
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