Doctoral Studies

Hydrobiology - Field

Brief description of field

The doctoral studies of Hydrobiology provide professional education of students in the field of basic and applied hydrobiology and limnology with a focus on the ecology of running and small standing waters. The dissertations focus primarily on the topics of biology and ecology of aquatic invertebrates (especially meio- and macrozoobenthos) and vertebrates (especially fish) and mechanisms governing structuring of their metacommunities on various spatial and temporal scales. Besides the most frequently solved topics concerning the influence of environmental conditions, students study the effects of biotic interactions, trophic relationships and life histories of species, including phenotypic plasticity. In the frame of traditional focus of the Hydrobiology Working Group at the Department of Botany and Zoology, special attention is paid to the impact of anthropogenic activities on the aquatic environment and metacommunities, namely the effects of climate changes (especially intermittent surface water drying), pollution and flow modifications as well as species strategies for survival of heavily modified or extreme environmental conditions. The students’ research projects are primarily based on field research on model sites including both natural habitats (reference streams, springs and mires) and habitats under strong anthropogenic pressure (large rivers, intermittent streams, field wetlands, postindustrial sites and ponds). Specific issues are addressed by laboratory experiments involving the cultivation of organisms under controlled conditions in simplified environment or by molecular methods. An emphasis is laid on the application of modern methods and the ability of students to properly plan the design of field studies and laboratory experiments and their appropriate statistical evaluation. Qualifications gained for graduates is well-suited to science and research, water management, and public and private nature conservation and management organizations.

The doctoral study has two main forms, a presence and combined one, which differ mainly by requirements on a student’s regular attendance at the institution and participation in teaching and other common activities of the Hydrobiology Working Group. Students of a presence form obtain regular scholarship based on rules of Faculty of Sciences of Masaryk University. Any change from presence to combined form of the study is possible only upon the student’s request and agreement of a supervisor.

Profile of a typical graduate

The successful graduate has the knowledge and skills for independent scientific research in the field of hydrobiology, is able to prepare appropriate design for field and laboratory studies, and to apply adequate methods for collecting biological data and their statistical evaluation. She/he is trained in ecology of running waters with basic knowledge of ecology of standing waters, ecotoxicology of the aquatic environment and related fields of applied hydrobiology (especially bioindication and monitoring of ecological status of running waters). It focuses on current problems and directions of applied and basic research, both at the national and international level. She/he is a specialist able to determine a certain group of model organisms on a species level, with deep knowledge of the biological characteristics of this group and its relation to other components of aquatic ecosystems. She/he is able to present the results of her/his work by scientific publications in international and national journals and active presentations at professional conferences and forums. The acquired qualification allows graduates to be employed in science and research as well as in public and private nature conservation organizations, protected areas authorities and water management companies.

Requirements for applicants

The basic prerequisite for admission of an applicant for the study is completed study of the master's degree in biology (MSc or equivalent degree). An applicant may be admitted conditionally if the entrance exam precedes the end of above-mentioned study. A candidate must pass entrance examinations for study successfully, with the topic of dissertation and its objectives to be specified at the date of the entrance exam. Any modification of the topic during the study is approved by the committee of doctoral study of hydrobiology. A supervisor bears the full responsibility for funding the research related to student's research project. The entrance exam has the form of an interview consisting of scientific and linguistic parts. The ability of an applicant for scientific work is examined in the scientific part. Emphasis is laid on the presentation of own ideas and approaches for solving the dissertation topics, presentation of dissertation’s aims, ways of achieving them, and timetable. In addition, broader knowledge of hydrobiology and ecology of aquatic organisms can be examined. The language part of the exam consists of a conversation in English on the topic of applicant’s previous specialization and results, and professional curriculum vitae. The commission of entrance examination evaluates and scores the level of professional knowledge and assumptions of a candidate for independent scientific work (0-200 points) and knowledge of English (0-100 points). For admission, a candidate must receive at least 120 points in the professional and at least 60 points in the language part of the exam.

Study requirements and completion of studies

Students fulfil their obligations at the Department of Botany and Zoology, only in justified cases of cooperation with another institution in the Czech Republic or abroad in another workplace. Studying without regular attendance at the workplace is possible only in the combined form of the study. There is also the option of part-time studies abroad under the dual supervision. The defence of dissertation may also take place at a foreign institution under the conditions given by the Study and Examination Rules of the Masaryk University.

Controlling of the Study and its Due Completion

Student’s obligations are defined by an Individual Study Plan (ISP), which is pre-defined for each semester by a student assisted by a supervisor. This plan is a step-by-step guide with clear timetables for individual activities and takes precedence over the academic year's timetable. An ISP is designed in such a way that a student successfully completes the study within standard period of study and, during the first four semesters, she/he obtains necessary credits for (i) exams from advanced courses, (ii) active participation at specialised seminars, (iii) English skills (e.g. active lecture(s) at scientific forum), (iv) teaching assistance and other duties. Optimally during the 5th semester, a student submits a request for the State Doctoral Examination and ISPs for following semesters preferentially include work on the dissertation research project. A supervisor checks an Individual Study Plan (see below) and prepares an evaluation report at the end of each academic year. If a student fails to meet the ISP conditions, a supervisor or committee of doctoral study of hydrobiology may disagree with the promotion to next semester. Within an ISP, student is obliged to prepare a review of the study topic in the first year of the study (and present it at the Hydrobiological seminar), to present actively the results of her/his doctoral research project in an international scientific conference or symposium and to present the results each academic year at the Hydrobiological seminar. It is also highly recommended to make a stay abroad for at least 2 months. A student must be actively publishing and must prepare at least two publications in the journal(s) with assigned impact factor, being the first author at least of one of these. The due completion of the study is regulated by the University Act and the Study and Examination Rules of the Masaryk University.

Doctoral Dissertation

The dissertation thesis must be an original work prepared during the doctoral study under the supervision of a supervisor, which brings new knowledge within the given topic. The thesis may contain the results from student’s previous studies, but these must be clearly marked, e.g. by citations. A substantial part of the results of student’s research project must be published or accepted in scientific journals with IF at the time of submission of the dissertation thesis (at least 2 IF publications, one may be in the "accepted" phase). The results must also be presented to the international scientific public by active conference presentation. The dissertation thesis can be written in Czech, Slovak or English. It is divided into an abstract, introduction, methodical part, results, discussion, conclusions and list of literature. The extent of thesis is not defined, high scientific level and quality of formal lay-out are decisive. According to Article 30/2 of the Study and Examination Rules, the dissertation thesis should consist of a set of publications (three to four publications and submitted manuscripts) accompanied by unifying and exhaustive scientific commentary on the topic and results to form a comprehensive work, including references to relevant scientific literature. In case of collectively obtained results, the thesis must contain (according to Article 30/4 b-c) the specification of the student's share. At the end of the thesis, curriculum vitae and the list of scientific publications of the are included. The thesis must be tied in a firm and indivisible binding. At least 3 copies are submitted, the obligation is also to store an electronic version of the thesis in the MU Information System. The thesis is assessed by at least two reviewers (Ph.D. or its equivalent degree, CSc., Dr.), at least one is not a MU employee.

Content and Scope of the State (National) Doctoral Examination

The State Doctoral Examination (SDE) is based on the subject of student's dissertation thesis and field of study; the members of the SDE commission ask questions from related disciplines. The student briefly presents the topic of her/his thesis and then answers questions related to her/his research project and questions focused on the knowledge of hydrobiology, limnology and biology of aquatic organisms. It is particularly the examination of student's overall range of knowledge, detailed knowledge on the subject related to student's dissertation thesis, ability to formulate hypotheses independently, and his/her interest in the latest scientific information.

General topics for Ph.D. thesis:

  • Biodiversity in relation to environmental factors on various spatial and time scales
  • Biotic interactions and trophic relationships in model biotopes
  • Bioindication of the ecological state of biotopes and assessment of the effects of anthropogenic factors on aquatic ecosystems
  • Analysis of genetic diversity in relation to environmental conditions and historical processes
  • Structure and functions of metacommunities in natural and heavily modified biotopes
  • Life strategies of aquatic organisms in relation to environmental factors

The list of current doctoral topics for the given academic year is given below.

Individual study plan

Individual Study Plan should include:

  1.   Courses expanding the knowledge on a field beyond student's Master degree program, are selected by a student according to recommendations of a supervisor. These courses are taken in the first two semesters, in each semester one course should be studied.
  2. Courses deepening specialized knowledge and skills are selected by a student from an offer of Faculty of Sciences or other faculties of Masaryk University after consultation with a supervisor. Only courses that student has not completed before, and which have accreditation for the doctoral program are selected. Student usually selects one course in each semester from the first to sixth semester.
  3. Courses improving student's linguistic skills. Student proves her/his ability of active communication in foreign language by passing of examination (academic English, English for biologists, etc.) or by an English lecture at an international conference.
  4. Student attends Hydrobiological seminar for 8 semesters. In justified cases, for example in combined form of study, a supervisor may propose a different form of this activity.
  5. Assistance in teaching of the courses in Bachelor and Master study programs. Student is involved in the preparation of lectures and conduct practical laboratory courses or field exercises together with the responsible teacher. Minimal scope of this activity is 2 lessons per week during the first to sixth semesters or the corresponding time for the laboratory exercises taught in the blocks and field exercises.

List of members of doctoral committee

List of supervisors

Commission for state doctoral exams and defenses

List of current doctoral topics

Department pages

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