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PhD position, Forest ecosystem phenology and ecology - 2020BAPFWETEX072Posted by: University of Antwerp
Posted date: 2020-Feb-13
The Faculty of Science is seeking to fill a full-time (100%) vacancy in the Department of Biology for a
Doctoral student in the area of forest ecosystem phenology and ecology - understanding spatial variability of trees and bird phenology in temperate deciduous forests across Europe
Phenology is a crucial aspect of the functioning of deciduous forest ecosystems and is very sensitive to climate and environmental changes. In the last decades, phenological changes have been a clear indication of climate change impacts. However, previous studies have primarily focused on temporal variability (i.e. inter-annual differences and trends) and less on spatial variability (i.e. different among sites and areas). Spatial differences are not trivial as they might account for a significant difference in climate change impacts (and mitigation options) on ecosystems and their resilience to climate change. Nevertheless, spatial variability is poorly accounted for in the current climate models or regional projections. In this project, the candidate will analyze (with different statistical and modelling techniques) long-term observations of different components of the ecosystem (e.g. trees, caterpillars, birds) and remote sensing canopy data of the temperate forest European zone, to answer the following questions: (i) what are the site factors (and site history elements) modulating or interacting with regional climate to affect phenology? Can they be added to climate models? (ii) Are different components of the ecosystems (e.g. trees, caterpillars, birds) showing different spatial variability in phenology? How well do they match? (iii) What is the impact of legacy effects (e.g. previous year growth and phenology) on spatial dynamics of current year phenology? Impact of different local genotypes will be carefully considered in the analyses. The work will be carried out in PLECO (vegetation phenology; https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/research-groups/pleco/) and EVECO groups (bird phenology; https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/research-groups/eveco/) of the University of Antwerp.
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