The Centre for Research on Ecology and Forestry Applications (CREAF) in Barcelona, Spain, has announced 10 open PhD positions within the framework of La Caixa Foundation’s Spanish INPhINIT programme, aimed at early-stage researchers of any nationality who wish to pursue their doctoral studies at research centres accredited with the Severo Ochoa Spanish Seal of Excellence.
This programme is aimed exclusively at PhD research projects in STEM disciplines: life and health sciences, experimental sciences, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Among these opportunities, there is a position for research on forest resilience. The deadline for applying for this scholarship is 4 February 2021 and the application must be submitted through La Caixa Foundation’s website.
Project description – Forest resilience to global change and associated disturbances
The project will explore forest resilience to climate change-induced extreme events and disturbances. Specifically, it will investigate how ecological conditions and legacy – management and land abandonment – determines resilience of forest composition, diversity, structure and ecosystem services. The research group, led by Francisco Lloret, investigates terrestrial ecosystems functioning in front of environmental changes, framed in global change. Particularly, it addresses Mediterranean ecosystems response to disturbances (extreme droughts, wildfires, pests) embedded in landscape transformations due to agricultural abandonment which has favored new forests.
Job position description
The PhD position will address the following topics:
- Drought and heatwave intensity characterization, with special focus on Catalonia and Spain, using standardized indices (e.g., SPEI), which will be related to changes in forest structure and composition using empirical datasets (Spanish Forest Inventory IFN) and model simulations. This will be complemented for Catalonia with a spatially explicit database recording events of drought-induced decline on forests annually since 2010 (DeBosCat).
- Analysis of the impacts of forest management activities reinforcing or depleting resilience in front of disturbance regimes. This analysis will include the contribution on resilience of management strategies enhancing functional diversity and species redundancy. Thus, how specific drivers such as climatic variables, disturbance type, stand structure, past management and landscape-level transformation modulate the effect of forest biodiversity on the resilience of ecosystem services will be examined.
- Modelling impacts of recent changes in forest structure and composition, as well as the impact of recent disturbances and management systems in Catalonia, on the provision of key ecosystem services, including wood and timber but also climatic and hydrological regulation, erosion control and, potentially, recreational uses.