PhD Opportunity: Acoustic Monitoring of Fish at the University of Aberdeen

Project Description

An exciting PhD opportunity to work with leading academics at the National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) and Chevron Corporation to address some of the major questions around the environmental implications of decommissioning energy assets at a number of global locations and provide guidance for optimal decommissioning.

Chevron Corporation has recently entered into an Anchor partnership with the NDC to fund a portfolio of projects that will focus on techniques for monitoring fish stocks around installations and pipelines as man-made marine habitats, the bioavailability of potential decommissioning-related substances, and modelling the longevity and eventual fate of offshore infrastructure left in situation. 

The student will be part of a multidisciplinary team based in the NDC’s Centre for Doctoral Training, working alongside PhD students, researchers, academics and Chevron colleagues. The student will also benefit from undertaking courses that are part of the MSc in Decommissioning on a non-credit bearing basis.

This fully funded PhD studentship is available to carry out a research project on the advancement and deployment of acoustic methods to monitor fish at man-made marine structures (MMS). The selected candidate will carry out field work in either Angola, Thailand, Australia, or another suitable international location, using acoustic and visual survey techniques with the end result to determine the appropriateness of such methods for determining the abundance and distribution of fish at various spatial scales in relation to MMS.

This project aims to improve methods to study fish abundance and diversity in the vicinity of MMS, the so-called near-field area of influence (Stanley and Wilson, 1997). Specifically, the aim is to develop better techniques and technology to monitor the area around MMS at various spatial scales. Many studies have been based on examination of readily available ROV footage, which does not extend beyond the realm of the MMS; others have used nets, which have only extended to several hundred metres, at best, from the platform (Løkkeborg et al., 2002). Hydroacoustic techniques have been used to measure fish density at several kilometres from platform in the central North Sea (Soldal et al., 2002) but have rarely been applied in a systematic way to validate their use in and around structures. In this project, state-of-the-art high-resolution acoustic and video surveying equipment will be used to evaluate the abundance, and potentially, species composition of fish, at various spatial scales.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a UK honours degree at 2.1 level or above (or equivalent). The studentship would suit a numerate biologist/ecologist or a physicist/engineer with an interest in biology/ecology.

The work will involve going out to sea, so the candidate needs to be comfortable spending long periods (several weeks) at sea on survey vessels and/or supply vessels. Analyses will be conducted with user friendly software for signal processing, but some programming experience in Matlab and/or R would be desirable.

Formal applications can be completed online here.

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship is funded by Chevron. Full funding is available to UK/EU candidates only. This includes Tuition Fees at UK/EU rates with a monthly stipend of £15,009 (2019/2020) paid monthly in arrears.

The start date of the project will be as soon as possible. Should this studentship be awarded while the UK is still under emergency measures and it is not possible to bring the PhD student to the NDC, there is the option to start the studentship via distance learning if necessary.

For more information, click here.

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