martes, 12 de junio de 2012

Beca Doctoral, The Open University (Reino Unido)

Open University

PhD Studentship in Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems

Open University - Faculty of Science

Based in Milton Keynes3 year PhD studentship to start 1st October 2012
Main supervisor: Emma Sayer
Co-supervisor: Vincent Gauc
Feedbacks between increased plant growth and soil carbon storage in forests under global change
  • Work on rapidly advancing area of ecosystem science with field work at different sites across the UK;
  • Carry out cutting-edge multi-disciplinary research that could have important implications for global climate change;
  • Training in state-of-the-art techniques in ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry and microbial ecology.
Feedbacks between plants and soil under environmental change are likely to have a significant impact on ecosystem carbon cycling. Recent work has shown that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have enhanced tree growth in forests. However these increases in growth can also cause 'priming effects' whereby microbial degradation of soil organic matter is stimulated by fresh carbon inputs, such as plant litter, releasing additional carbon from the soil. Given that forest soils represent the largest terrestrial carbon pool, priming effects could cause a major release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Despite their potential importance in ecosystem carbon dynamics under environmental change, the processes and mechanisms underlying priming effects are still poorly understood. This project will address current knowledge gaps on plant-soil feedbacks in forests by conducting a series of studies to determine the mechanisms behind priming effects and to establish general patterns in their occurrence.
Specifically, the project will address:
A. What are the mechanisms controlling the occurrence of priming effects?
B. What regulates the intensity of priming effects?
C. How do priming effects measured in the laboratory incubations compare to those measured under natural conditions in the field?
This will be achieved through a series of laboratory experiments and mesocosm studies. Microcosm experiments will be set up in the lab to determine mechanisms and measure changes in microbial community composition and activity. Mesocosm experiments will be established in different forest stands to determine relationships between priming effect intensity and substrate/site characteristics. A comparison of results from the lab and field experiments will determine the representativeness of laboratory incubations for predicting the occurrence of priming effects in forests under global change.
You will receive training in a wide range of techniques in field ecology, microbial biology and biogeochemistry, which will enable you to effectively develop and conduct research spanning these disciplines.
The department has a thriving postgraduate community and the postgraduate training programme provides a full range of courses covering: research techniques, scientific methods, information technology, communication and interpersonal skills, which are tailored to the needs of each student. Details of the Department and the Science Faculty can be found on
Closing date: 15 June 2012
Interview date:  week commencing 9 July 2012
Informal enquiries regarding the studentship can be made to the first named supervisor at
Application forms, including a full CV of academic background, suitability for the position and names and addresses of three academic referees, should be sent by email to or by post to Astrid Peterkin, Science Deanery, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA.
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