Postdoctoral Research Opportunity: Lumpsucker for sea lice control

Fixed term, full-time Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Grade 6 £23,810 - £29,249 p.a.

Closing date for applications: Tuesday 31 May 2016

Interviews in week starting 6th June 2016

The Post

The Institute of Aquaculture, Faculty of Natural Sciences is offering a post-doctoral research assistant (PDRA) post to work with Profs. Herve Migaud and Dr. Andrew Davie on a project focussed on cleanerfish (ballan wrasse and lumpsucker) delousing efficiency. Specifically, the post will investigate factors impacting on delousing activity of cleanerfish in experimental and commercial conditions.

The post is offered as a fixed term, full-time appointment for 30 months to start 1 July 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter.

It is widely acknowledged that cleaner fish are vital to an effective integrated pest management strategy to control sea lice burdens. Originally there was a high reliance on wild caught wrasse sp. however in recent years focus has been directed towards the captive production of cleaner fish. There are two species of commercial interest, these being ballan wrasse ( Labrus bergylta ) and the lumpsucker ( Cyclopterus lumpus ). In the UK an industry led ballan wrasse research, development and production program has successfully been running since 2012 and in the coming years will focus on boosting production numbers and animal quality, while shortening time required to reach deployment and optimising efficiency at sea. Wrasse production is not without its challenges however and for this reason supply of animals to farms is still limited. Facing a similar challenge, producers in Norway have widely implemented lumpsucker production to complement wrasse production to boost the numbers of “cleaner fish” available across the sector. In the UK, lumpsucker production has only been initiated meaningfully in recent years. With the basis of a lumpsucker industry now established in the UK it is an opportune time to initiate a strong industry-led research-driven program dedicated to lumpsucker production and deployment.

Securing a sustainable supply and the optimal deployment of lumpsucker for sea lice control in the Scottish salmon industry

A new project funded by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) will be initiated in June 2016 bringing together world leading companies involved in salmon and cleaner fish production, feed manufacturing and vaccine development companies together with Stirling academics leading cleanerfish research in the UK. This three year project has the overarching aim to establish a secure and sustainable supply of lumpsucker to be deployed effectively in Scottish salmon farms to control sea lice infections. In addition, another project funded by SAIC and commercial partners was initiated in June 2015 to scale up production of farmed wrasse in the Scottish salmon industry.

The overall research aims for the postdoctoral researcher within these projects are to:

  1. Study delousing activity in cleanerfish (especially lumpsucker) and determine factors impacting on delousing efficiency (environmental, genetic and physiological).
  2. Study farmed cleanerfish swimming behaviour and compare delousing activity using hydroacoustic 3D tracking in salmon sea pens and test the effect of daily and seasonal environmental changes, routine husbandry on site, supplementary feeding as well as size and domestication.

The work will be lab based at Stirling University as well as in the field including University of Stirling marine facilities (Marine Environmental Research Laboratories in Machrihanish), Otterferry Seafish hatchery and commercial sites on the West coast of Scotland where stocks are held and deployed. As such, the project will require the PDRA to spend short periods of time in the field.

Description of Duties

The successful applicant will report to Prof. Herve Migaud and Dr. Andrew Davie and be responsible for collecting all the data and samples from experimental trials and field survey. The PDRA will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the experiments and analyses, and assist the PIs to coordinate/manage the project.

Duties will involve:

  1. Conduct and be responsible for laboratory experimentation and fish trials
  2. Field data and sample collection
  3. Analysis of data including large datasets with 3D positioning
  4. Assist in the supervision of PhD and MSc research projects
  5. Other duties as necessary

Key Competencies and Attributes

Excellent inter-personal and communication skills and the ability to work both independently and in a team along with experience of laboratory analyses and research practices. The successful candidate is expected to be a proficient computer user and be familiar with processing of large amounts of data, data handling and statistical packages. The successful candidate will be trained in analytical techniques and necessary research skills, where required.

Essential Criteria

  • A PhD in the field of fish physiology, behaviour (or related discipline)
  • Experience in behavioural analyses
  • Experience of working with aquaculture industry partners
  • Comfortable working with live animals
  • Evidence of being able to work as part of a team
  • Evidence of excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Experience in writing papers for publication and report-writing
  • Trustworthy and reliable
  • A UK accepted driving licence

Desirable Criteria

  • At least 4 papers published as first author in peer reviewed Journals
  • Experience in using acoustic tracking devices.
  • Experience working with cleanerfish or other marine fish species
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