Deadline: 2015-06-01
Level Of Study: PhD

PhD-position on the effects of elevated CO2 on soil organic matter turnover and plant

With a starting date of September 2015, the Terrestrial Biosphere
Modelling group at the MPI for Biogeochemistry (Jena, Germany) is
looking for candidates for a 3-years PhD project.

A large hurdle for the development of soil-vegetation models is the
scarcity of field observations that characterise all aspects of the
vegetation-soil interaction, because the fluxes between vegetation
and soil are difficult to observe in the field due to their high
small-scale variability. This PhD-position will perform a mesocosm
experiment on small trees using a factorial treatment of 13C and 15N
tracers at ambient and elevated CO2 concentrations. The aim of this
experiment is to understand whether increased plant rhizodeposition
due to enhanced plant production under elevated CO2 increases plant
nutrient availability, as hypothesised based on recent field
experiments. Questions to be answered are (i) whether elevated CO2
increase above- and/or below ground biomass production or turnover,
(ii) whether this leads to increased soil organic matter decomposition,
(iii) whether changes in soil organic matter dynamics are driven by
changes in plant roots or mycorrhiza, and (iii) whether these changes
lead to increased plant N-uptake from organic sources? Technical
assistance in the set-up and execution of the experiment will be
provided by a technical staff member of the institute. The project is
associated with a research project funded by the European Research
Council. More information can be found here:


Interviews are expected to  take place in Jena between June and July 2015
Qualifications: a university degree (M.Sc or equivalent) in a
quantitative science (e.g. geo-ecology, environmental science,
biology, or soil sciences) with experience in laboratory work, in
particular gas exchange measurements, or soil and vegetation sampling,
as well as data analysis and statistics. Candidates should have an
interest in applying their expertise to terrestrial ecology and global
change research, and to collaborate with ecosystem modellers to bridge
the gap between observational and theoretical studies. Detailed
knowledge of handling and interpretation of stable isotope samples,
as well as plant-soil responses to elevated CO2 is an asset.

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The PhD-student will be working in the Terrestrial Biosphere Modelling
(TBM) Group of the Biogeochemical Integration Department at the Max
Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany. The successful
applicants will join a young and international team in a vibrant
research environment, encompassing experimental and theoretical work
on the role of the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen and
phosphorus in the Earth system. The TBM group has established an
extensive network of international collaborations in Europe, the U.S.
and Australia.

The conditions of employment, including upgrades and duration follow
the rules of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Sciences
and those of the German civil service. The Max Planck Society seeks to
increase the number of women in those areas where they are
underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.
The Max-Planck society is committed to increasing the number of
individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore
encourages applications from such qualified individuals.

The application: Please send your inquiries and/or applications
including a letter of interest, CV, and the names and contact
information of two references to Dr. Sznke Zaehle either via email to, or directly to the institute’s address (Dr.
Snke Zaehle, Max-Planck-Institute Biogeochemie, Postfach 10 01 64,
07701 Jena, Germany).


Apply Now

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