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PhD Project: Digging Deeper - Understanding the role of soil biodiversity for agro-ecosystem functioning

PhD Project: Digging Deeper - Understanding the role of soil biodiversity for agro-ecosystem functioning

Agroscope, Switzerland

 

Introduction

This project tests whether agro-ecosystem diversification can promote soil biodiversity and the delivery of beneficial ecosystem services across Europe. The overall goal is to develop a theoretical and applied framework to identify the impact of agricultural practices on the yield, biodiversity and sustainability of agroecosystems. It is an interdisciplinary project and is performed in collaboration with 5 postdocs, researchers, technical staff and stakeholders in Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, France and Spain.

Tasks

You will test the effect of agricultural diversification on soil biodiversity and ecosystem service delivery - you will collect soils from a wide range of agro-ecosystems in Europe (in collaboration with colleagues from Sweden, Germany, France, Spain) and you will test whether nutrient use efficiency, nutrient losses, greenhouse gas production and C-sequestration, and soil aggregate stability are related to agro-ecosystem diversification and changes soil biodiversity. - You will manipulate soil biodiversity in experimental microcosms and you will test how changes in soil biodiversity and microbial diversity influence ecosystem functioning - You will collaborate with colleagues in Sweden, Germany, France and Spain to tackle joint European questions related to biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Requirements

MSc in ecology, agronomy, botany, biogeochemistry or microbial ecology - Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, nutrient cycling, isotope ecology (especially with 15N), molecular and microbiological methods - Experience with statistics (R) in ecology, microbial ecology or biodiversity research is advantageous - Achievement-oriented, open-minded personality with good capacity for teamwork - Communication and IT skills; working language is English.

Organisation

Agroscope is an innovative research institute for agriculture and nutrition run according to the principles of New Public Management. Agroscope is part of the federal administration and is attached to the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER. It has research stations at a number of sites around Switzerland but its head office is in Bern (Liebefeld). The Plant-Soil-Interactions group (http://www.agroscope.ch/bodenoekologie/08050/index.html?lang=en) focuses on plant-soil-microbe interactions, soil biodiversity, soil ecosystem services and sustainable farming systems. The advertised project is part of Biodiversa, a network of national and regional funding organisations promoting pan-European research on biodiversity and ecosystem services. It is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The project builds upon earlier work of the host group (e.g. Wagg et al. 2014, PNAS; Bender & van der Heijden 2015, Journal of Applied Ecology; Bender et al. 2016, Trends in Ecology and Evolution) and further members of this consortium (e.g. Maestre et al. 2012, Science; Jones et al. 2014, Nature Climate Change; Veresoglou et al. 2016, Nature Communications). We offer you varied work in a young and multidisciplinary research team as well as thorough initial training. Agroscope has excellent research facilities with well-equipped laboratories, greenhouses, climate chambers and agricultural fields. You will enjoy flexible working hours and good employee benefits and you will have regularly exchange with other members of the consortium.

Place of Work Agroscope Institute for Sustainability Sciences in 8046 Zurich-Affoltern
Salary Category According to the guidelines of the Swiss National Science Foundation
Employment Level 100%

Application

If this challenge appeals to you and you meet our requirements profile, we look forward to receiving your online application (human.resources@agroscope.admin.ch). Online applications consist of a single PDF containing an application letter, CV, copy of certificates (MSc &BSc) and Email addresses of 2 referees.

For further information: Prof. Dr. Marcel van der Heijden, Head of the Plant-Soil-Interactions research group, phone +41 58 468 72 78, marcel.vanderheijden@agroscope.admin.ch (Do not send applications to this e-mail) Start date: January 2017, Duration: 3 years.

Location: 
Agroscope, CH
Deadline: 
Until filled

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