The goal of the PhD project, based at the University of Edinburgh, is to assess the physiology and carbon cycling of key North Atlantic coral and sponge species under variable environmental conditions. This will be conducted through experimentation on live organisms in aquaria in Edinburgh, the Azores and Norway. Results will help inform how carbon cycling of these key habitat forming organisms changes under variable present day conditions and projected future conditions, to understand how carbon cycling in the North Atlantic may change.
One of the key habitats are cold-water coral reefs. These are under threat from projected climate change such as ocean acidification (CBD 2014; Hennige et al. 2015), and a key question is how will the functioning and carbon cycling of these ecosystems change? This is a major goal of the EU Horizon 2020 Project “ATLAS” (http://www.eu-atlas.org), which will provide funding for this project and a vibrant wider research and policy environment for the scholar to work within. ATLAS will develop robust new adaptive decision-making tools for policy makers in an era marked by rapid climate change and evolving resource exploitation scenarios. This PhD project is designed to work with ATLAS partners in the Azores, the Netherlands and Norway.