PhD & Post-doctoral Positions in Forest Community & Ecosystem Ecology

The Bisbing Forest Ecosystem Science lab at the University of Nevada – Reno (UNR, http://sarahbisbing.com) seeks highly motivated, independent candidates for PhD and post-doctoral work on Great Basin forest stand dynamics and ecosystem response to climate change. Research will investigate woody plant functional trait variation across mountain environmental gradients to identify thresholds of tolerance to climate, disturbance, and extended drought. We will evaluate relationships between species and functional diversity at within- and among-community scales to allow for identification of mechanisms of species’ establishment and success for predicting forest ecosystem dynamics and response to climate change.

Long-term permanent plot sampling will be paired with common garden trials, manipulative greenhouse experiments, and predictive modeling to address the following questions:

1) How and why do woody plant functional traits change across natural climatic gradients and over varying spatial scales in the arid Great Basin region?

2) What is the relative importance of microsite versus macroclimate variables in controlling trait variation within and among these communities?

3) How does trait variation influence ecosystem function, such as C sequestration, nutrient cycling, and decomposition rates?

4) Given species’ and community tolerances, what species and associated traits will be maintained under the predicted warmer and drier conditions of the future?

Sampling will occur along elevational gradients in four Great Basin Mountain Ranges (Spring, Sheep, Snake, and Ruby Mountains). Research will require extensive time in the field at high elevation, across rugged terrain, and in extreme arid environments. The successful candidates must have field experience and be comfortable spending extended periods of time traveling to and from remote field sites and working in the backcountry. Ideal candidates will have experience with dendrochronology, greenhouse work, and/or biogeochemical research. Applicants should have an excellent academic record, a strong interest in forest and landscape ecology, and a desire to improve quantitative and writing skills.

PhD Position: The primary responsibilities of the PhD candidate will be establishing field sites, collecting annual ecological data, and maintaining common garden and greenhouse experiments. The successful candidate must apply to the PhD program in Ecology, Evolution, & Conservation Biology (https://www.unr.edu/degrees/ecology-evolution-and-conservation-biology). Preference will be given to applicants with a Master’s degree, evidence of success in establishing a scientific study, and strong quantitative skills. Applicants should have a BS and/or MS in ecology, biology, environmental science, or related field. This position is funded through a combination of research & teaching assistantships.

Post-Doctoral Position: The post-doctoral scholar will assist in study establishment, training of graduate student researchers, and grant and manuscript writing. Ample opportunities exist for pursuit of independent research questions within the project framework.

Anticipated start date of January 2018 but with flexibility up to June 2018.

To apply, please send (1) a letter of interest, including: research interests, career goals, and relevant past experiences; (2) a CV; (3) GRE scores (PhD only); (4) unofficial academic transcripts; and (5) contact telephone numbers and email addresses for three references. Submit application materials as a single pdf file to Dr. Sarah Bisbing at sbisbing@unr.edu. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

About Reno: Located in the picturesque Truckee Meadows at the base of the Sierra Nevada, UNR is located 45 minutes from Lake Tahoe, world-class climbing and skiing, and within four hours of San Francisco, the Napa-Sonoma wine country, and Yosemite National Park. If you ski or climb, this is the place to be!

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