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PhD Scholarship in Fish Population Ecology

Danmarks Tekniske Universitet


A PhD Scholarship in Fish Population Ecology is available at the National Institute of Aquatic Resources at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Aqua) with starting in 2019. The scholarship is financed by the EU H2020 project MEESO. The project work will primarily be carried out at the Section for Oceans and Arctic at DTU Aqua, which is located in Kongens Lyngby, Denmark. The PhD will be part of a collaboration between DTU Aqua, the Norwegian Institute for Marine Resarch (Bergen) and the German Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Konstanz).

The research field of the scholarship is spatial ecology of mesopelagic fishes. Global human population growth is causing increased demand for food, including marine proteins and lipids. Mesopelagic organisms represent the largest unexploited resource left in the world's oceans, with a recent biomass estimate of 10 billion metric tons, 10 times larger than previous estimates. Nevertheless, our knowledge of the mesopelagic community with respect to its biodiversity, the drivers of its biomass, its role in carbon sequestration, and its interactions with the epipelagic community, including existing commercial fish stocks, has major gaps. The main reason for these knowledge gaps is the lack of proper methods for observing and sampling the relatively small organisms residing at water depths between 200 and 1000m.

Responsibilities and tasks

In order to understand the consequences of a possible exploitation of this substantial resource, it is first necessary to understand how individual behaviours and population dynamic processes such as density dependence, predation or competition govern the spatio-temporal distributions of mesopelagic species. Modern acoustic techniques make it possible to identify and track individuals in the mesopelagic. These techniques can be used in combination with other data from scientific surveys to empirically describe the main spatial scales of variability in mesopelagic abundances, to describe and quantify individual behaviours and to investigate, if major spatial patterns emerge from individual interactions.

The observed spatial patterns can also be related to observed vital and demographic rates, for example somatic or population growth and species interactions, as well as the physical environment. Thus, the overall aim of the PhD is to improve the understanding of spatial and temporal distributions of this large community with emphasis on potentially exploitable mesopelagic species. The PhD is part of the project 'Ecologically and economically sustainable mesopelagic fisheries (MEESO)'. It is expected that the candidate participates in selected project research cruises to collect acoustic, video, trawl and individual fish data.


Candidates should have a two-year master's degree in aquatic science, marine biology, environmental engineering, physics or similar (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

We are looking for a candidate who has:

  • Previous experience in handling and processing large amounts of data.
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English.
  • Mathematical modelling skills and experience with MATLAB, R or PYHTON
  • Experience with hydro-acoustic data especially from wide-band systems would be advantageous.

Approval and Enrollment

The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programs at DTU. For information about our enrollment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study program, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

We offer

DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms

The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here. Further information

Further information may be obtained from Stefan Neuenfeldt, tel.: +45 3588 3402, email:

You can read more about DTU Aqua at Application

Please submit your online application no later than 1 April 2019 (local time).

To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form. The following must be attached in English:
  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • A research statement
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

The research spectrum of the Section for Oceans and Arctic covers oceanography, population ecology, observation technology and the Arctic. The research into oceanography integrates biological, physical and chemical parameters' interactions in the ocean, ranging from individual plankton to regional seas. We focus on understanding the key processes that govern the structure and function of pelagic food webs, as well as climate and ecosystem interactions. The research in population ecology establishes how processes affecting individuals shape populations and ecosystems.

The purpose of DTU Aqua is to provide research, advice and education at the highest international level within the sustainable exploitation of living marine and freshwater resources, the biology of aquatic organisms and the dynamics of ecosystems as well as their integration in ecosystem-based management. DTU Aqua has 260 employees, of whom a third are scientific staff. The other employees are assistant biologists, laboratory technicians, IT employees, administrative staff, ship's crew, student assistants etc. The institute is organized into eight scientific sections which carry out the research, educational and advisory activities. In addition, the institute has a number of scientific and administrative support functions, including the research vessel DANA. DTU Aqua has employees in Charlottenlund, Silkeborg, Nykøbing Mors and Hirtshals as well as on Dana.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.

Praktisk information
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Banedanmark, Carsten Niebuhrs Gade 43
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Banedanmark, Carsten Niebuhrs Gade 43
Banedanmark, Carsten Niebuhrs Gade 43
Banedanmark, Carsten Niebuhrs Gade 43