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PhD opportunity



The influence of forest floor changes
on the success and composition of tree regeneration


As part of a recently funded DFG Research Unit “FOR 5315 - FOREST FLOOR: Functioning, Dynamics, and Vulnerability in a Changing World”, the Chair of Silviculture at the University of Freiburg invite applications for a 4-yr doctoral position focusing on the role of forest floor properties and changes on the success and composition of tree regeneration. Starting date 1st July 2022. 


Project description: Climate change will greatly impact tree species composition and hence biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of forests. So far indirect effects such as changes in regeneration success as a result of altered substrate conditions for seed germination, modifications in nutrient availability or seed predation, and subsequent shifts in the competition among tree species have received very little attention, although they may be crucial for future forest resilience and adaptive capacity. Most research on the influence of forest floor (FF) on tree regeneration dates back to the 1960-1970s, long before widespread phosphorus (P) deficiency and climate change were important considerations.

The PhD project aims to close this knowledge gap by studying the influence of changes in FF properties on the regeneration success of important tree species in temperate mixed European beech forests. Specifically, the combined influence of climate change and FF changes on the regeneration success of three target species, Fagus sylvatica, Picea abies, Acer pseudoplatanus will be addressed. In addition to the direct influence of these two factors, indirect influences through changes in the availability of nutrients and water or mycorrhization, changes in biotic factors such as fungal pathogens and seed predation, and changes in the competition among tree species as well as between seedlings and other understorey vegetation will be analyzed. One main task of this PhD project is to assess germination rates, mortality, growth, competitive status as well as mycorrhization and nutrition of seedlings in an experimental approach in the field. Additionally, in a greenhouse experiment the germination and initial establishment process will be assessed under controlled conditions.


Candidate profile: We are looking for a highly motivated and co-operative person with a strong background in forest ecology and silviculture, or related fields. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated his/her ability to successfully carry out relevant research, data analyses and communicate the results. Experience in publishing in scientific journals is desirable. The applicant should be able to independently plan and undertake field and greenhouse experiments and coordinate the work with other partners of the research unit. Prolonged periods working in the field at different sites in Germany and Switzerland are required. A proficient statistical background and experience with R is desirable. A strong command of English is indispensable. For international candidates, knowledge of German (or a strong willingness to learn) would be beneficial to enhance the experience of living and working in Germany. In addition, the applicant should possess a valid driver's license.

Salary is the German standard for doctoral students (TV-L E13 65%). The University of Freiburg is an equal opportunity employer and encourages women to apply. Severely disabled applicants with equal qualification and aptitude will be given preferential consideration. For international candidates, the University of Freiburg offers support with the logistics of relocating to Germany (http://www.welcomecenter.uni-freiburg.de).


Founded in 1457, the University of Freiburg is one of the oldest German universities and now one of the nation’s leading research and teaching institutions. Freiburg is a vibrant student city at the foot of the Black Forest in close vicinity to France and Switzerland, with a rich cultural and academic life and excellent recreational opportunities. 


Your application will consist of a letter of motivation, a CV, academic transcripts (non-official copies are acceptable), and contact details of at least two academic references. Please send your application as a single PDF by email with the subject “PhD position P10 in RU FOREST FLOOR” by 5th May 2022 to Ursula Eggert (ursula.eggert@waldbau.uni-freiburg.de). Questions regarding the content of the project may be addressed to Prof. Dr. Jürgen Bauhus (juergen.bauhus@waldbau.uni-freiburg.de) or Dr. Martin Kohler (martin.kohler@waldbau.uni-freiburg.de).





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