Foraging ecology and catch size in Mediterranean groupers, c. 2500 BC – AD 500:

Groupers (Epinephelus) are a keystone taxon for the rocky shorelines of the Mediterranean Sea. Mediterranean Groupers are under increasing anthropogenic pressure, especially caused by overfishing and habitat loss. Assessment and management strategies, however, typically lack the long-term ecological perspective required to assess ecological baselines. Groupers were fished in the Mediterranean throughout the Holocene. Their archaeological record has unfulfilled potential to define variation in groupers’ status under distinct environmental conditions and exploitation intensity through time. Archaeological grouper bones can provide catch intensity, catch size, and trophic level data from zooarchaeological and nitrogen and carbon isotopic analyses.

The PhD candidate will employ ZooMS, metrics, and stable isotope analyses of recent and archaeological groupers to reveal the long-term ecological history of groupers in the eastern Mediterranean, from prehistoric times to the Late Roman Period in comparison with modern data from MPAs. Training in rocky reef ecology will be provided in Nice; ZooMS and stable isotopes via secondment at York.

Project framework: This project is part of “SeaChanges”, a Marie Skłodowska Curie international doctoral training network (ITN) integrating the fields of marine biology, archaeology and history through 15 fully-funded, salaried PhD studentships across seven institutions in six countries (the Universities of Cambridge, York, Vigo, Bologna, Copenhagen, Oslo, and Groningen).
The ITN offers state-of-the-art training to a new generation of outstanding young researchers. Marine environments are, and have long been, crucial to European economics, identity, and food security. The need for long-term perspectives to inform marine management is evident. SeaChanges will train a cohort of inter-disciplinary scientists who will merge zooarchaeology, historical ecology, palaeogenetics, imaging techniques, isotope biogeochemistry to understand threshold moments and enduring processes in past human-marine vertebrate interactions.

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