Master thesis project on arctic ecotoxicology – Pollutant effects in walruses

The Norwegian Polar Institute and UiT The Arctic University of Norway are looking for a student to a master thesis project that will examine contaminant related health effects in walruses from Svalbard. Walrus samples will be analyzed for pollutants, hormone levels and immunological responses. In addition they will be analyzed for mRNA expression of genes related to hormone disruption and immune suppression.

walrus

Photo: Tor Ivan Karlsen / Norwegian Polar Institute

Walruses are ice-associated marine mammals that show high individual variation in their diet. Some individuals feed on high trophic level prey such as seals others mainly feed on benthos such as clams.

Walruses feeding at the highest trophic levels are among the highest contaminated mammals in the Arctic. Exposure to environmental pollutants in arctic wildlife has been associated with negative health effects such as hormone disruption and immune suppression.

However, there is a lack of studies investigating health effects of pollutants in walruses. Early warning molecular effects could be detected as changes in mRNA expression of genes that play an important role in animal health, such as hormone balance and immune system. Hormonal or immunological changes can be seen as altered levels of hormones and immunoglobulins.

The student is expected to participate in the lab analysis of mRNA expression performed at National Institute for Public Health in Oslo (~2 months). Additional lab-work can be done in Tromsø. Data analyses and writing will be preferably done at UiT/Tromsø.

Interested?

If this is something for you, please e-mail and . Explain your motivation and describe the relevance of your background to the current project (please join a CV).