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1+1 year postdoctoral research position in ecotoxicology

Jerome Fort, July 27, 2017
 

Context

Mercury (Hg) still raises high environmental concerns in the Arctic. This toxicant is indeed found in high concentrations in Arctic marine food webs and these concentrations might keep on increasing in some Arctic regions under the effect of global change. In that context, understanding impacts of Hg on the Arctic wildlife, and especially on top-predators which are among the most vulnerable organisms to environmental pollution, is a major objective. Toxic effects of Hg have been widely investigated, including on Arctic species. However, in polar seabirds, a very few studies have assessed long-term population effects of Hg and almost nothing is known about effects of the parental mercury contamination on offspring phenotype and survival prospects. This is unfortunate as chick body condition, growth and ultimately survival will play a role in the dynamics of these vulnerable populations and their future distribution around the Arctic. Telomeres are long repetitive noncoding sequences of DNA located at the end of linear eukaryotic chromosomes. These telomeres inexorably shorten through life and this rate of shortening can be modulated by environmental conditions and exposure to environmental stressors such as pollutants. A couple of studies recently demonstrated in Arctic seabirds how telomere dynamics is linked to bird contamination by some persistent organic pollutants (OCPs and PFASs). Exposure to stressors is also well known to have transgenerational effects, with stress levels in the parental line having long-term negative consequences on offspring health. Recent studies have shown that these transgenerational effects might be mediated, at least in part, by telomere attrition. For instance, birds experimentally stressed during egg production produced chicks with shorter telomeres than controls. Hg, as a major environmental stressor, could therefore impact stress and telomere length of both parents and their chick, with potential subsequent consequences on chick phenotype and survival.

Position

We are seeking for an enthusiastic postdoctoral researcher to work on a project aiming at understanding the long-term effects of Hg accumulated by adult Arctic seabirds on the next generation. More specifically, by focusing on a little auk (Alle alle) population from Greenland, the postdoctoral researcher will in a first step study how adult Hg contamination impact their chick’s Hg contamination and ecophysiological condition (telomere length, oxidative stress, growth, body condition) and ultimately survival capacity. In a second step, the role played by adult movements and distribution during the non-breeding period on Hg concentrations accumulated by females prior the laying period and subsequently on chicks will be investigated. The position will involve some lab work as the postdoctoral researcher will be in charge of analyzing telomere length from little auk blood samples at the CEBC institute. Oxidative stress data will be provided as well as ecological data.

Qualifications

  • PhD in ecotoxicology or ecophysiology
  • Experience with lab work
  • Knowledge of Arctic marine ecosystems and/or seabird ecophysiology will be an asset

We offer a 1-year contract starting at the latest on 1 October 2017 with potential for 1-year extension. Gross monthly salary is 2500 euros. The postdoctoral researcher will be based at the LIENSs institute (http://lienss.univ-larochelle.fr/?lang=en), La Rochelle, France within the research group AMARE (Responses of marine animals to environmental variability). Main supervisor: Jérôme Fort (jerome.fort@univ-lr.fr). Co-supervisors: Mathieu Giraudeau (University of Exeter, UK giraudeau.mathieu@gmail.com) and Frédéric Angelier and Olivier Chastel (CEBC, France, frederic.angelier@cebc.cnrs.fr and olivier.chastel@cebc.cnrs.fr).

Application

Please send your CV, cover letter, contact information for three references and any inquiries to Jerome Fort (jerome.fort@univ-lr.fr) by 27 August 2017.