North Pacific Food Webs

PDF wanted for the International Year of the Salmon (IYS - multi-nation initiative - working towards a vision of salmon and people being resilient in a changing world. 

We are seeking a PDF to research the winter feeding ecology of Pacific salmon and the food webs that support them using biogeochemical approaches (stable isotopes and fatty acids). Foraging ecology is a critical factor in salmon growth and survival on the high seas, and the winter period is expected to be particularly stressful since this is when ocean productivity is at its lowest. Although the high seas feeding ecology of Pacific salmon has been sporadically researched since the 1950’s, little if any data have been collected on whole food web dynamics. Since 2013 we have entered into unchartered waters in the North Pacific, with intense heat wave activity potentially leading to wholesale shifts in the structure of the food webs that support salmon. The IYS expeditions in 2019 and 2020 ( enabled the collection of extensive sample sets for stable isotopes and fatty acid analyses in the Eastern Pacific for the entire pelagic food web, using a combination of plankton and trawl nets. The stable isotope data for these surveys are already available for analysis. Additional multi-ship surveys across the entire North Pacific are expected to be conducted in 2022. These combined data sets provide the opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding of overall food web structure and salmon specific feeding biology in the North Pacific, and to relate these to salmon health. This PDF’s objectives will include:

Development of an empirical framework for North Pacific pelagic food web structure, using a combination of stable isotope and fatty acid trophic markers. The established trophic structure will provided a framework for ecosystem model development. Analysis of spatial and temporal dynamics of Pacific salmon species dietary overlap and competition, and life history changes in these interactions. Interpretation through stable isotope and fatty acid analysis, augmented by comprehensive stomach content data sets.

The PDF is expected to play a lead role in organizing the food web sampling for the 2022 IYS expeditions in the North Pacific, and to participate in at least one of the expeditions; to interface with the IYS database development team in producing open access data products; to contribute to outreach activities communicating IYS research and findings.

Ideal qualifications: A PhD (completed by the time of appointment) in biological / fisheries oceanography or related discipline. Expertise in stable isotope and / or fatty acid analyses, food web and pelagic ecology; experience in developing and applying multi-source mixing models, experience in Ecopath with Ecosim.

Technical skills required: Programming (R, MATLAB®, python), statistical analysis, data management, field methods.

Reference Number

Please mention reference number GPS-54875 in all your correspondence about this Postdoctoral Fellow position.

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