PhD studentship: Mechanisms underlying the impacts of light on fish performances


Pr. Herve Migaud, Dr. Andrew Davie and Dr. John Taylor from the Institute of Aquaculture (University of Stirling, UoS) and Rainier Mols from Philips Lighting.


Light is a key driver/synchroniser of fish physiology and light regimes are routinely used in salmon farming to optimise fish performances through the manipulation of spawning, smoltification and control of puberty. However, lighting protocols are not optimised and rely exclusively on photoperiodic regimes in contrast to other agricultural products (poultry, crops). A number of knowledge gaps have been identified related to biological reaction of fish to light that prevent the deployment of biologically efficient lighting systems and protocols. Importantly, fish are diverse and results obtained in one species can not easily be transferred to another species.


The aims of this 3 year PhD project are 1) To study the spectral and illuminance effects on growth, appetite and smoltification during both freshwater and seawater on-growing, 2) To determine the impact of light on behaviour and fish welfare and 3) To implement a knowledge transfer strategy, in collaboration with Philips, to maximise the impacts of the project findings on a commercial scale. While the project is focused on salmon during the first year, it will also consider other commercially important species (potential candidates include tilapia, sea bass, trout, turbot, wrasse, to be agreed). The work, both analytical and experimental, will involve a series of tank studies at UoS facilities and experiments carried out at commercial fish farms (both fresh water and sea cage facilities) in order to test a range of scientific hypotheses. The project is co-funded by Philips Lighting and University of Stirling, in collaboration with leading fish farming companies in Europe.

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The student will be trained in a range of techniques to monitor the perception and effects of light on growth/feed intake, behaviour and welfare through a range of physiological (morphometry, possibly X-ray for feed intake/energetic studies, IR photocells for swimming activity…), enzymatic (ATPase), endocrine (growth hormones, melatonin, cortisol…) and molecular tools/markers as well as scientific writing / reporting.   


Candidates must have a First / Upper Second Class BSc / MSc in a relevant subject. It is not expected that candidates will have experience in the above techniques, but they will need to demonstrate the aptitude and commitment to be trained and work in both academic and farm environments. The applicant will be based at the UoS but periods of time (max 1-2 month/year) will be spent at external facilities as required by the project. Applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Herve Migaud ( , telephone +44 1786 467886) for further details of the project.

Application Process:

To apply, send a covering letter and up-to-date CV  to Anda Kilpatrick by clicking on the Apply button below by 14th December 2012. Candidates will then be selected and interviewed. The PhD will start in January-February 2013.

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