Direct and indirect effects of anti-herbivore defences in seagrasses

Internship position (12 ECTS)
Herbivory is a key factor shaping community structure and function by control of plant biomass and productivity. To lessen herbivory impact, plants may reduce their quality as food. Besides structural/morphological defence (e.g. leaf toughness, spines), plants may deploy chemical (i.e. herbivore-deterrent compounds) and nutritional (e.g. low N content) defences. Anti-herbivory defences provide a rich source of information that may mediate different direct and indirect responses in different animal species. These responses have been widely documented in macroalgae; however, little information is available in vascular marine plants (i.e. seagrasses). These unknown seagrass-animal interactions can be crucial in seagrass meadows, which is why their comprehensive understanding is vital for improving conservation of these valuable coastal ecosystems. Internship students will be involved in a larger project aimed at exploring different seagrass-animal interactions mediated by anti-herbivory defences. To this aim, field works and manipulative experiments will be conducted.
We seek candidates with a strong interest and preferably background in experimental marine ecology. Candidates should demonstrate good English language skills and work well in a collaborative research environment. Experimental works will be carried out at the Ramalhete field station of the Centro de Ciências do Mar (CCMar), with the more relevant species found in the Ria Formosa lagoon.
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Reference Number: RP-47981