The Mediterranean Sea has nurtured and sustained its surrounding populations for thousands of years. Yet, food and energy requirements of increasing populations have contributed to a greater human (anthropogenic) footprint on the Mediterranean. The recent discoveries of large natural gas reservoirs (1.8% of world reserves) and possibly oil in the Levant Basin of the eastern Mediterranean Sea (EMS) have stirred excitement over the new prospects yet raise stakeholders concerns about the environmental risks involved in the large-scale exploitation of these offshore resources.
Marine hydrocarbon pollution affects pelagic, benthic, and coastal populations as well as commercially grown organisms. Primary producers and bacterioplankton form the basis of marine food webs and are essential for biogeochemical cycling of nutrients such as carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P). Many studies have examined the response of individual species of algae or bacteria with several studies examining the integrated responses of natural communities of marine pelagic and coastal microbial populations including primary producers to either acute or chronic hydrocarbon pollution. Yet, the large variability of both pollutants and the natural environments/ecosystems make community responses hard to predict requiring experimentation according to specific locality and conditions.
This project will be funded starting October 2014, candidates for PhD are encouraged to apply.