PhD Studentship: Refining tagging of wild fish and sharks

This project will investigate how to improve the welfare of fishes and sharks during tagging. The deployment of electronic tags on wild fish and sharks has become an important research tool for conservation, management and scientific learning. Much attention has been paid to the development of these tags, including sensors, data compression, power budgeting, data relay, and materials. Biologging tags have therefore been subject to several decades of technological refinement. Cost and logistical complexity of conducting science in the wild, has however resulted in limited opportunity to develop the most refined ways of deploying tags to ensure they are minimally invasive.

Further, management of the life support systems of animals during invasive biologging tag attachment procedures is under-researched and there is scope for procedure refinement. Refinements would, promote improved welfare during and following procedures, and increase recovery times of wild animals once released, which together would translate to reduced bias in gathered data and lead to higher quality science with reduced uncertainty. As such, using aquaria and field-based studies, this PhD will investigate and operationalise evidence-based refinements in wild fish and shark tagging and life-support management techniques used during tagging procedures, including anaesthesia, gill irrigation and the use and efficacy of tonic immobility in invasive tagging procedures.
The project would best suit a candidate with demonstrated experience of working with fish and sharks in aquaria and/or wild settings. Skills in marine fieldwork, particularly on boats, will also be desirable. The student will receive training in Home Office licensed work involving tagging of fish and sharks in aquaria and field settings. The student will join a team of graduate students working on biologging projects on a range of marine taxa. The student will also be supported to present work at national and international conferences.

Salary: Stipend of at least £15,609 per annum for 3 years.

Closing date: 05/07/2021

Further information can be found here.