Will tropical forest plant communities survive environmental change? | NERC GW4 + Doctoral Training Partnership, University of Exeter

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(Further details available at: http://nercgw4plus.ac.uk/project/will-tropical-forest-plant-communities-survive-environmental-change/)

Tropical forests play a central role in controlling global climate, due to their major contribution to the hydrological and carbon cycles. However, their resilience to future climate change remains uncertain. The composition of tropical forests under future climates depends on the ability of tropical forest seedlings to respond physiologically, or acclimate, to environmental change. Specifically, shifts in tropical forest composition will change the distribution of plant traits and most likely how efficiently these forests recycle carbon and water (1,2). For tropical seedlings it is essential to prioritise investment of carbon in the photosynthetic system, whist maintaining a viable water transport (hydraulic) system and nutrient uptake system, in order to win the race to become a top-canopy tree. Depending on local environmental conditions, seedlings are likely to optimise carbon investment in key plant traits associated with these three systems differently (3,4). It is currently unclear if and how seedlings optimise trade-offs of resource allocation to each of these essential plant functional systems under changing abiotic conditions. Greater understanding of seedling acclimation is, however, essential to predicting how individual species and tropical forest communities will respond to environmental change.

This project will examine trade-offs in tropical rainforest seedling traits, associated with the photosynthetic, hydraulic, and nutrient systems across continents under both natural and experimental gradients of environmental change. The project will be based at three sites: i) a long-term tropical forest drought experiment, ii) a nutrient fertilisation experiment in eastern and central Amazonia respectively and iii) a soil nutrient gradient in Borneo. This project will present the opportunity to address the following key questions:

Q1. Do the traits of seedlings differ in the Amazon and Asian forests according to different rainfall conditions found there?
Q2. How do plants trait relationships vary along gradients of environmental change in different tropical regions?
Q3. Do seedling traits control community-level trait development as seedlings develop into trees?

This studentship involves substantial amounts of fieldwork, collecting data on seedling and tree traits across tropical forests located in Brazil and Borneo, as well as developing a data-base combining these field data with pre-existing data to examine how tropical tree traits change with tree development from seedling to adult. This project offers a valuable opportunity for a student to undertake cutting-edge research concerning how tropical forest function is likely to be altered by climate change.



Two research positions in tropical biology: microbial ecology and forest ecology and evolution

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI; www.stri.si.edu) is pleased to invite applicants to fill two permanent research positions. The first position is part of a new initiative, made possible by generous support from the Simons Foundation, to conduct research on functional roles played by microbes in tropical forests. The second position is for a quantitative biologist conducting research on the ecology and evolution of tropical forests. Successful candidates will develop outstanding, independent research programs, supervise students and post-doctoral fellows, collaborate with Smithsonian staff, and provide service to STRI.

STRI is headquartered in the Republic of Panama, with modern research facilities, a library with extensive holdings in the natural and anthropological sciences, and field stations throughout the Republic of Panamá. Staff scientists maintain research programs within a worldwide network of collaborators at diverse academic institutions. Opportunities for mentoring young scientists are available through an internal fellowship program. Formal teaching is possible through educational programs with affiliated universities, but not required.

Incumbents will complement existing strengths at STRI, and within STRI’s Center for Tropical Forest Science/Smithsonian Forest Global Earth Observatory, including, but not limited to, community and population ecology, ecosystem biology, evolutionary ecology, soil-plant interactions, microbial ecology of forests, plant physiology, animal behavior and human impacts on tropical forests. Both positions are based in the Republic of Panama. Early- to mid-career candidates are especially encouraged, but applicants at all postdoctoral stages will be considered.

Minimum Qualifications: A Ph.D. and post-doctoral research experience in a relevant field, outstanding publication record, demonstrated success in obtaining grants, and a commitment to communicating science to the public. Demonstrated experience with bioinformatics (microbial biologist) and database management (quantitative biologist) will be an advantage.

To Apply: Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, a summary of research accomplishments and interests, curriculum vitae, three to five significant publications as separate PDFs, and the names and contact information of three references.

Send applications electronically to strisearch@si.eduAddress inquiries to Dr. Allen Herre, Chair, Microbial Ecology Search Committee at HerreA@si.edu or Dr. Helene Muller-Landau, Chair, Quantitative Forest Ecology Search Committee, at MullerH@si.edu.

Positions are open until filled; review of applications will begin on 2 December 2016.

STRI is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to diversity in its workforce. Appointments are made regardless of nationality.

Job announcement: http://www.forestgeo.si.edu/article/248/






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