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Opportunity at National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Metagenomics of Fish and Invertebrate Communities Across Changing Marine Ecosystems


Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Pacific Marine Environment Lab

RO# Location
26.77.85.C0109 Seattle , WA 98115


Name E-mail Phone
Stepien, Carol A. 206.526.6038


The project goal is to understand, “How do fish and invertebrate assemblages respond to changing physical, chemical, and biological conditions across Pacific ecosystem waters” with new high-resolution high-throughput metagenomic and bioinformatic research analyses. This biotechnology will assess the dynamic responses of entire fish and invertebrate communities to physical and chemical perturbations that are altering fisheries and food chains, using environmental (e)DNA in water and plankton from ongoing cruise sampling along key biogeographic regions. Multiple gene regions will resolve species compositions and their relative abundances in benthic and pelagic communities, population stock structure of targeted fisheries, and spatial and temporal patterns. For example, early life stages often are highly vulnerable to temperature and ocean acidification (OA), and comprise the prey for larger invertebrates, fishes, and marine mammals. Many identifications currently are restricted to higher taxonomic levels at early life stages, yet different species are not ecologically interchangeable, often respond differentially to stressors, and are present at different times and places in marine ecosystems. Moreover, individual species and populations that comprise communities fluctuate over spatial and temporal scales, and interact together. The novel metagenomic approach applied here will allow us for the first time to understand biological interactions and responses to environmental conditions at the community, species, and population levels throughout life stages and across ecosystems. We will actively engage fishery communities and train high school science students in environmental DNA sampling and analysis, as partners in the project, thereby applying and disseminating new biotechnology that is non-invasive and ecologically benign to monitor and assess community dynamics in changing ecosystems.






*Stepien's postdoc/grad Student:


Klymus, K.E.*, N.T. Marshall*, & C.A. Stepien**. 2017. Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding assays to detect invasive invertebrate species in the Great Lakes. PLOS One.


Trebitz, A., J. Hoffman, J. Darling, E. Pilgrim, J. Kelly, E. Brown, W. Chadderton, S. Egan, E. Grey, S. Hashsham, K. Klymus*, A. Mahon, J. Ram, M. Schultz, C.A. Stepien, J. Schardt. 2017. Early detection   monitoring for aquatic non-indigenous species: Optimizing surveillance, incorporating advanced technologies, and identifying research needs. Journal of Environmental Management. 202(1): 299-310   doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.07.045 


Snyder, M.E.* & C.A. Stepien** (co first-authors). 2017. Genetic patterns across an invasion’s history: a test of change versus stasis for the Eurasian round goby in North America.Molecular Ecology.doi:10.1111/mec.13997(published online early)Featured on NOAA PMEL website:    

Genomics; Genetics; Metagenomics; Bioinformatics; High-Throughput Sequencing; Invertebrate; Zooplankton; Fish; larvae; Acidification


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and non-U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$58,000.00 $2,000.00

Experience Supplement:
Postdoctoral and Senior Associates will receive an appropriately higher stipend based on the number of years of experience past their PhD.

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