A PhD project is available in collaboration with the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC), the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR), and Canterbury University on the topic: "Interactive effects between foundation species in subarctic marine intertidal environments."

Intertidal environments play a number of important roles in the functioning of marine coastal ecosystems, while also providing a range of ecosystem services to human beings. These environments are characterised by high biodiversity with unique spatial and temporal dynamics.This diversity promotes ecosystem functions and services. At the heart of this positive effect of biodiversity are foundation species, which modulate habitat heterogeneity, reduce the effects of environmental stress, and provide refuges and nutritional resources. In coastal environments, macroalgae, eelgrass, and mussels fulfill this role, structuring benthic communities.

However, these species often coexist, and their positive interactions give rise to facilitating cascades. Few studies to date have assessed these roles and how they are influenced across a disturbance gradient or in the presence of multiple disturbances. Therefore, it has become increasingly crucial to gain a better understanding of facilitator cascades along environmental gradients and to appreciate their significance in abiotically controlled environments, such as subarctic regions. This project is the result of collaboration between the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC), the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR), and Canterbury University.


The general aim of the project is to characterise the importance and mechanisms behind positive interactions between foundation species in subarctic environments. More precisely, the PhD project will i) delineate the importance, effects and mechanisms behind facilitating cascades in subarctic environments; ii) verify whether facilitating cascades are maintained along an environmental gradient; and iii) examine the nature and temporal evolution of positive interactions in eelgrass and mussels. This project will involve working with the taxonomic and functional biodiversity of benthic communities in coastal intertidal marine environments within the St. Lawrence marine estuary (Quebec, Canada).


The student should hold a master's degree in biology, marine sciences, environmental studies, or a related discipline. The candidate's past occupations must demonstrate experience relevant to the subject.

How to Apply?

Consideration of applications will begin in November 2023. Interested candidates are asked to submit their application by e-mail only to the following address: mathieu.cusson@uqac.ca. This e-mail should include :

  • A cover letter explaining the reasons for applying to this project;
  • A curriculum vitae containing all information relevant to the assessment of the application, including the addresses of two referees.

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