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PhD opportunity


Resilient regeneration methods to restore forests in a climate change hot spot



As part of the recently funded inter- and transdisciplinary project cluster WaldlabOR (Forest Lab Upper Rhine: Adaptation strategies for the conservation of forest ecosystem services in climate change hotspots), the Chair of Silviculture at the University of Freiburg invites applications for a 4-yr doctoral position in a joint project with the Forest Research Institute of Baden-Württemberg. The PhD research will focus on innovative silvicultural options including irrigation to regenerate new forests in areas with dieback from drought and other causes.
Starting date 01.02.2023.


Project description: The Upper Rhine region is already one of the most heat-stressed and driest regions in Germany. In the future, even higher temperatures and particularly frequent and long-lasting hot spells are expected here. The water shortage of many forest sites during the growing season is aggravated by insufficient water storage capacity of sandy and gravelly substrates and by groundwater abstraction. Heat and water stress interact with biotic factors to create novel disturbance regimes that result in significantly increased mortality of nearly all tree species. In particular, permanently high populations of cockchafer with root feeding of grubs lead to further weakening of trees and their regeneration. The disintegration of many forests as a result of these multiple disturbances encourages the spread of invasive plants that exacerbate competition for water and thus tree mortality. Given the risks described above, regeneration is particularly vulnerable and proves to be difficult and costly. For the necessary active adaptation of forests, robust regeneration methods are needed to facilitate a change towards a more adapted tree species composition. The main objectives of this subproject are a) to determine the influence of irrigation and pesticide-free methods for controlling cockchafer grubs on tree seedling establishment success, b) to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of irrigation methods for tree crops on extreme sites, c) to identify long-term adapted tree species for extremely dry and hot sites, d) to determine the social acceptance for intensive methods of crop establishment on extreme sites, and e) to promote the transfer of knowledge on crop establishment on extreme sites into forestry practice through further training and the development of a practical guideline. The concrete solutions and action approaches for forest management that are being developed are intended to have model character for other regions in which similar problems will arise in future. Young researchers are given the opportunity to test innovative inter- and transdisciplinary approaches and to qualify themselves in the field of sustainability, transformation and adaptation research.


Candidate profile: We are looking for a highly motivated and co-operative person with a strong background in forest ecology and silviculture. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated his/her ability to successfully carry out relevant (experimental) research and data analyses, and to communicate the results. Experience in publishing in scientific journals is desirable. The applicant is expected to establish, in cooperation with project partners, field experiments and to develop innovative irrigation solutions. He/she should be able to independently plan and undertake field sampling and coordinate work with other project partners. A strong statistical background and experience with R and systematic reviews/meta-analysis are desirable. Knowledge of German and a strong command of English are desirable. The candidate needs to communicate with project partners and stakeholders and should actively participate in networking and outreach activities under the project and funding line. He/she would be co-supervised by Prof. Jürgen Bauhus and Prof. Ulrich Kohnle.

Salary is the German standard for doctoral students (TV-L E13, 65% of a full scientist salary) and a starting date in February 2023 is anticipated. 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 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 in WaldlabOR” until the 15th December 2022 to Ursula Eggert (ursula.eggert@waldbau.uni-freiburg.de). Questions regarding the content of the project can be discussed with Prof. Jürgen Bauhus (juergen.bauhus@waldbau.uni-freiburg.de).





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