Mercier Lab -- Opportunities for students
Opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students (Honours, MSc and PhD) are periodically available in my lab. I am looking for highly motivated individuals with a passion for marine ecology. I will certainly encourage those who so wish it to develop their own ideas/approaches, provided they fall within the scope of my research program. Research projects in the following areas are particularly welcome:
- Ecology of deep-sea invertebrates. Projects may involve the study of various groups (corals, and other cnidarians, echinoderms, mollusks, etc.) that we can collect (preserved and live specimens) from bathyal depths (down to about 2000 m) in the Grand Banks and Labrador regions. The focus may be on reproductive ecology (including spawning and larval development), feeding habits, trophic interactions and symbioses. Students should be prepared to take part in sea-going expeditions and have a desire to work with poorly known (and really intriguing) species.
- Breeding strategies of marine invertebrates (corals, sea anemones, sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, etc.). Topics to be addressed may include: 1) chronobiology of reproduction, particularly annual, lunar and daily cycles; 2) offspring/larval phenotype (size, behaviour, dispersal potential); 3) role of inter-individual and inter-population interactions in the reproductive success of benthic invertebrates (i.e. chemical communication); 4) synergism between chemical ecology and environmental factors in the reproductive processes, including the effects of climate change. Students should be interested in the design of experimental trials aimed at answering ecological questions, histology/microscopy techniques, image analysis, and field monitoring of breeding populations.
- Sea cucumber fishery and aquaculture. With a decline in traditional harvests, several exploratory fisheries are being conducted to determine if certain underutilized species would be commercially sustainable. At the forefront of emerging fisheries in Atlantic Canada is the orange-footed sea cucumber, Cucumaria frondosa. Projects in this segment aim to elucidate key biological aspects of C. frondosa which are not only significant from an ecological viewpoint but will also provide managers with the tools to develop appropriate management strategies by filling important gaps in the existing knowledge. Areas of study may include the definition of growth parameters through field and laboratory experiments, the development of tools for aging and tagging wild specimens, optimization of captive-breeding conditions, and other aspects of the general biology and ecology of sea cucumbers.
Interested candidates should send me an outline of their research interests, a CV and a copy of unofficial transcripts by email. The Memorial University website can be consulted for questions pertaining to the programs offered, requirements, tuition fees, scholarships/fellowships and application procedures.