PhD Position Evolutionary Ecology

The GEOMAR Helmholtz-Centre for Ocean Research Kiel offers a PhD-position for an early stage researcher within the recently established Priority Program “Flexibility matters: Interplay between trait diversity and ecological dynamics using aquatic communities as model systems” ( funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student with strong interest in community, evolutionary and trait based ecology to join our interdisciplinary eco-evolutionary research team located at the GEOMAR Helmholtz-Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany.

The overarching goal of the project is to assess the relative importance, and functional interdependencies of ecological and evolutionary processes within marine phytoplankton communities under external pressure. The experimental model system will consist of functionally different phytoplankton species, i.e. diatoms, cyanobacteria and coccolithophores that vary in terms of resource acquisition, productivity and environmental tolerances. The external forcing will be enhanced seawater CO2 concentration.

The successful candidate will study the relative importance of the different components of response diversity, i.e. physiological plasticity, ecological species sorting, and adaptive evolution, to explain change of ecosystem functioning of selected experimental plankton communities in response to enhanced CO2 concentration. This will be achieved first, by a direct experimental approach, and second, by a theoretical Price-equation decomposition into plasticity components, ecological species sorting, and adaptive evolution. Trade-offs among stress tolerance and competitive abilities will be addressed in order to interpret the results. The PhD candidate is expected to work in close collaboration with a second PhD candidate studying how rapid ecological and evolutionary processes inhibit or mutually enhance each other in multispecies phytoplankton assemblages.

Funding is available for three years. The anticipated starting date is 01 December 2014 or January 2015. The candidate must hold a Master of Science (or equivalent) degree in the field of biology, ecology, evolution, or related subjects. Experiences in experimental ecology or evolution and in statistical data analysis are required. The work includes semi-continuous microcosm experiments, microscopic quantification of different species and strains via light and electron microscopy and flow cytometry, and nutrient analyses. Experience in cultivation of phytoplankton is a plus. The candidate should have a strong interest in multidisciplinary research.

Closing date: 14th September 2014

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