PhD fellowship "la Caixa INPHINIT" in Biodiversity in planktonic calcifying organisms

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    Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
    Natural sciences
    First Stage Researcher (R1) (Up to the point of PhD)




Group Leader: 

Prof. Patrizia Ziveri

Research Project / Research Group Description

Human activities, including burning fossil fuels, directly or indirectly affect marine species distribution by alteration of marine environments (e.g. ocean warming, sustained extreme events, ocean acidification) and/or harvesting (e.g. commercial species), producing cumulative impacts that reduce ecosystem complexity and species number. The biodiversity loss may have cascading effects by reducing resilience of ecosystems to rapid environmental changes. In particular, the biodiversity, complexity and size spectrum of phytoplankton community largely determine the trophic organization and species diversity of pelagic ecosystems including the food availability for the higher trophic levels, the metabolic activities, nutrient remineralization and export of organic matter.

Interestingly, scientific knowledge of biodiversity relates inversely with species size, with far lesser knowledge of small organisms. This PhD project is addressing the biodiversity of micro-planktonic marine calcifying organisms (phyto- and zoo-plankton), common marine groups at the base of the food web considered particularly sensitive to carbon cycle dynamics, seawater carbonate chemistry, temperature and other non-climate drivers. It will focus on the biodiversity of these organisms in different areas of the Mediterranean Sea, Southern Ocean, and North Pacific Ocean, determining the environmental and physiological changes controlling their distribution and detecting their variability under human-induced climate and environmental change. This project is targeting diverse biogeographical areas characterized by wide gradients in species diversity relevant in biological, cultural and economic terms. A decline in marine coastal ecosystem biodiversity has already been documented due to both local and global phenomena related to climate change, however it is unknown how pelagic systems will respond to these changes.

Job position description

In this project, we will tackle key unanswered questions related to marine biodiversity dynamics, ecology and global change. The specific strategy of this PhD project on planktonic calcifying organisms will include - meta-analysis (including historical ecology) of existing data of biogeographic distribution; - new data to assess if changes are already occurred and assess the possible causes of these changes, - target laboratory and incubation experiments to test the impact of specific climate and non-climate drivers, grazing and other detected processes on planktonic calcifying communities.

The selected sites have already been sampled and the core material for this project is stored at ICTA-UAB. Possible additional oceanographic sampling campaign will be performed during the project. The research will be carried out at the Institute of Environmental Study and Technology (ICTA) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) within the research groups ‘Marine and Environmental Biogeosciences’.

What is funded

Salary is €34.800 gross, plus €3.564 per year for additional costs (conferences, courses, etc.). An additional prize of €7.500 is paid upon completion of the PhD.


3 years


The selection process is very competitive and candidates should have an excellent academic record.

The candidate will apply through “la Caixa” foundation. Deadline 4 February 2021 at 2 pm (Central European Time - CET).



Eligible candidates must have resided or carried out their main activity in Spain for less than 12 months in the last 3 years, have a B2 English degree, and have a higher education degree that gives access to doctoral studies.


The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) of the Autonomous University of Barcelona is a research centre accredited with the Spanish Seal of Excellence María de Maeztu in 2020, the perfect place to carry out your PhD project through an INPhINIT Incoming fellowship.

For more information, please contact Ms Silvia Martínez (silvia.martinez.sinibaldi AT uab.cat).



The responsibility for the funding offers published on this website, including the funding description, lies entirely with the publishing institutions. The application is handled uniquely by the employer, who is also fully responsible for the recruitment and selection processes.