The Altermatt lab at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies (IEE) of the University of Zurich (UZH) and the Department of Aquatic Ecology of Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, has a vacancy for two PhD studentships in ecology.
Project title: Bridging biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in dendritic networks: a meta-ecosystem perspective
Understanding the causes and consequences of biodiversity is among the most challenging goals in ecology. Recent results indicate a generally positive effect of diversity on ecosystem processes. Up to now, almost all work on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning has been conducted in a non-spatial, one-patch perspective. Natural ecosystems, however, are spatially explicit, and there is substantial flow of material and organisms among patches and ecosystems. This project aims at applying the concept of meta-ecosystems to empirical data in spatially explicit dendritic networks.
In a project including two complementing PhD theses and a Postdoc fellow, we will use a laboratory protist microcosm system to experimentally test interacting effects of habitat network structure and ecosystem functioning (PhD Project 1). We will extend these findings to mesocosm experiments and large-scale field studies with amphipods to study ecosystem functioning in Swiss river networks (PhD Project 2). Finally, we will synthesize the findings. In the whole project, diversity and ecosystem functioning will be studied in spatially explicit dendritic networks in a highly consistent framework. Ultimately, we want to get a comprehensive understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in riverine systems.
Competitive applicants will have previous experience in ecology, biodiversity and spatial dynamics and be interested in participating in this extensive new research project. They will be highly motivated, enthusiastic and independent persons with a passion for science. Candidates should have a good conceptual understanding of ecological theory, excellent experimental skills and/or a background in quantitative modeling. Excellent communication and writing skills in English, good work ethics, and creative thinking are desired. A Masters level degree (or equivalent) in Ecology or related subject is necessary for admission. The working language in the Altermatt lab is English.
Application deadline: 10th May 2014