Seagrass ecosystems largely contribute to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services in coastal areas worldwide. It is also well know that eutrophication and impending effects of global warming threaten these ecosystems, thereby causing biodiversity loss, seagrass habitat fragmentation and local extinction of seagrass ecosystems. Recent ecological theory about the ways ecosystems can respond to perturbations suggests that when an ecosystem approach its tipping points and it is therefore close to local extinction, it shows early warning signals such as decreased temporal stability and decreased capacity of recovering following pulse perturbations. Nonetheless, there are not yet experimental proofs for seagrasses, despite this theory seems to work for other ecosystems. Understanding which are the early warning signals for seagrasses is fundamental for managing their conservation. This project aims at understanding the resilience of seagrass ecosystems under multiple perturbations. In particular, the project will focus on the following questions: 1) What is the trajectory of meadows under stress 2) Which indicators can be used to establish the biodiversity and conservation level of seagrasses? 3) Are seagrass ecosystems under press stress less capable of recovering after pulse disturbance? 4) How this information can be used to identify early warning signals of ecosystem shift?. The project will use an experimental approach in the field and in the laboratory. Initial funding are provided by an ongoing project funded by TOTAL foundation andan other submitted project proposal.
Obtaining the funding for PhD salary is subjected to a selection by the doctoral school GAIA (University of Montpellier).
The candidate is expected to have excellent score (>15/20 or 75%), interest and knowledge in community ecology and aquatic habitats. He/she should have interest in integrating theoretical and experimental ecology and in using logical experimental designs and data analyses. Knowledge on statistical tools such as Analyses of variance and their multivariate correspondents (ex PERMANOVA) and diving license are not indispensables but they will be positively considered for the choice of the candidate.

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