PhD Scholarship in Fisheries Effects On Sandy Habitats

Technical University of Denmark has an opening PhD position. This fellowship is available for all students around the world. The deadline for applying is October 21, 2018.

A PhD Scholarship in "Fisheries effects on sandy habitats" is available at the National Institute of Aquatic Resources (DTU Aqua) with starting date 1 December 2018. The PhD project will be carried out at the Section for Ecosystem-based Management, in Lyngby, Denmark. DTU Aqua is an institute at the Technical University of Denmark.

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 development of ecosystems as well as their integration in ecosystem-based management. The institute has an international research staff comprising approx. 120 academic employees.

Project description

Commercial fishing with mobile bottom-contacting gear is one of the major anthropogenic activities affecting marine ecosystems. Short term impacts on the seabed include physical disturbance, resuspension of sediments, mortality of benthic fauna, and alteration of habitat structures, while long term impacts may include changes in community composition and function, and reductions in habitat complexity.

Assessment of the benthic effects and by-catch of fishing is a central component in ecosystem based fisheries management. In European waters substantial research efforts have been undertaken to investigate fishing effects and identify potential mitigation measures and sustainability targets as part of the implementation of international policies, directives and conservation conventions. Mitigation approaches have mostly focused on gear-oriented innovations (e.g. introducing pelagic doors in demersal otter trawling) and area closures, but also the potential of so-called smart fishing (optimizing resource availability through effort-refinement; e.g. choice of fishing season, area, time of day) is increasingly being explored. In areas also affected by other types of anthropogenic pressure, such as increased nutrient loadings, effects of fishery may be difficult to disentangle from these as well as from the influence of natural pressures (e.g. tidal currents and waves).

A central research component of the PhD project is the quantification of short-term benthic impacts of two gear types that are frequently deployed on sandbanks by Danish fishermen; anchored seines targeting mainly plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) and otter trawls targeting sandeel (Ammodytes marinus). Benthic fauna data exist for analysing sandeel otter trawl impacts for two different gears; a sandeel trawl with standard demersal doors and a similar gear with pelagic doors. For the anchored seine gear new data need to be sampled and analysed, and this requires the PhD student to plan and conduct field work that will enable a quantitative impact analysis. A general complication of such fisheries impact analyses is the presence and influence of other anthropogenic as well as natural pressures, and another key component of the project will be to assess impacts from these other pressures.


We are looking for a candidate who has:
- Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Aquatic Science & Technology, Marine Biology or similar.
- Experience in planning and conducting field and associated laboratory work related to analyses of benthic communities
- Experience with laboratory work, including sample sorting/processing and identification of benthic invertebrates to species level.
- Keen interest in research and for working within the field of marine biology and fisheries sciences.
- Mathematical or modelling skills and experience with R-programming will be advantageous.

Approval and Enrolment

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


The assessment of the applicants will be made by Senior Research Scientist Ole Ritzau Eigaard, Special Consultant Grete E. Dinesen and Professor J. Rasmus Nielsen, DTU Aqua.

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

For further information about the project, please contact Senior Research Scientist Ole Ritzau Eigaard;

General information may be obtained from Rikke Hansen, (+45) 3588 3001.


Please submit your online application no later than 21 October 2018.

Applications must be submitted as one pdf file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link “Apply online,” fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one pdf file. The file must include:
- Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)
- Brief research proposal (1-2 pages) presenting ideas on how to address the research topics given in the short description of the PhD project above

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

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

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, Nykbing Mors and Hirtshals as well as on Dana. You can read more about DTU Aqua on


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