ECOLOG-L M.S. Assistantships (2): Blue Crab Ecology and Fisheries

FW by Andy Wilson


We seek highly motivated students to fill two funded M.S. assistantships in the laboratory of Dr. Zack Darnell at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA. More information on Dr. Darnell’s research can be found at Assistantships will begin in January, 2016 and include a stipend of
$18,000 per year. The students selected for both assistantships will be fully integrated members of the project teams and will contribute to study design, collection and analysis of data, and manuscript preparation. Prior research experience is preferred.

ASSISTANTSHIP 1: LINKING BLUE CRAB ABUNDANCE, GROWTH, AND MORTALITY TO MARSH FRAGMENTATION AND SUBMERGED AQUATIC VEGETATION COVER The overarching goal of this project is to determine the effects of changing coastal landscapes on blue crab populations in Terrebonne Basin, a region of coastal Louisiana supporting a large blue crab fishery but experiencing substantial marsh fragmentation and land loss. The student will conduct field surveys of blue crab abundance and field experiments examining growth and mortality across a range of fragmentation conditions. This is a collaborative project with The Water Institute of the Gulf, and the student will work closely with Water Institute personnel.

ASSISTANTSHIP 2: MIGRATORY MOVEMENTS AND FISHING MORTALITY OF THE LOUISIANA BLUE CRAB SPAWNING STOCK This project investigates the timing and route of the blue crab spawning migration, the processes contributing to mortality during this critical phase of the life cycle, and the potential for sperm limitation in the Louisiana blue crab spawning stock. The student will work with local commercial crabbers to conduct a mark-recapture study in the Terrebonne and Pontchartrain Basins, and will use recaptured and returned crabs to examine sperm stores and reproductive potential.

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY AND DEPARTMENT: Dr. Darnell is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Nicholls State University, a comprehensive regional university located in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Nicholls lies in the heart of the Bayou Region, allowing for easy access to the Mississippi River, its tributaries, Louisianas wetlands, and the Gulf of Mexico. The Department of Biological Sciences (, is currently the largest department in the College of Arts and Sciences and offers an M.S. degree in Marine and Environmental Biology ( graduate/). The marine and environmental sciences emphasis within the department has been identified as a Unique Area of Excellence by the University of Louisiana System.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Interested students should contact Dr. Zack Darnell (, 985-448-4709) for additional information or to apply. Please include a copy of your CV (including GRE scores), unofficial undergraduate transcripts, and contact information for three professional references. For full consideration, please submit all materials prior to Oct. 14.


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