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RAP opportunity at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration     NOAA

Fecal Microbiome Community Structure as a Non-invasive Health Biomarker for Endangered Killer Whales


National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Fisheries Science Center

opportunity location
26.03.39.C0436 Seattle, WA 98115


name email phone
Kim Michelle Parsons 206-302-2428


Conservation and management concern for the endangered Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) population has elevated over the past decade.  Despite dedicated recovery efforts, the population has failed to exhibit signs of growth and the reproductive success of the SRKW continues to decline. Understanding factors affecting the survival and fecundity of this population are key for informing effective management actions. Health assessment in wild whales is particularly challenging, but recent insights from preliminary data on the cetacean fecal microbiome suggest an avenue worth exploring.  Since the gut microbiome is intimately linked to host immunity, and fecal samples are relatively easy to collect, the fecal microbiota represents an opportune target for assessing health and disease in wild killer whales. Currently, little is known about the temporal stability and normal variation in the killer whale gut microbiome. We seek a candidate to explore the longitudinal patterns of fecal microbiome diversity among killer whales and identify microbial taxa of interest.

key words
gut microbiome; marine mammals; health biomarkers; killer whales; cetacean; metabarcoding


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
$71,000.00 $3,000.00

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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