PhD postition in Ecology, Entomology and Chemical Ecology - DFG-Biodiversity Exploratories

Universität Würzburg

Gap Response in Forest Insects – From Communities to Cellular Processes (GapResIn)

Background: In the light of climate change, the understanding of the buffering role of forests on diversity and communities is increasingly of importance because trees affect local microclimates at the same magnitude as predicted for macroclimate. The GapResin Project aims to bridge existing concepts from macro-ecology to local microclimate variation in forests. The project will make use of the scientific framework of the Biodiversity Exploratories with its large scale high resolution monitoring data along land-use gradients and envisioned experimental treatments in forests.

It will follow a four-step approach balancing the relevance and evidence in our research. First, it will compile and measure the species traits body size, color and wing-span and wing-load for all species of saproxylic beetles, macro-moths and true bugs collected in a current TreeScape project. These data will be used together with canopy openness measured with airborne LiDAR to generalize and to predict the community response to canopy density via trait space across different types of temperate forests. Second, it will investigate the response of the same groups to gap density in the new envisioned Forest Gap experiment. Third, it will then analyze trait variation within selected species occurring in both conditions for a local selection of individual specimens by their traits. Fourth, it will perform massively parallel transcriptome sequencing of four selected species of moths and beetles (preadapted to closed or open conditions) after a microclimatic shift by exposing the caged insects experimentally to closed canopy and gap conditions in the forest experiment. Here, using a comparative approach under controlled field conditions, it aims at identifying transcriptional signatures related to microclimate response in some well-selected insect species. These analyses aim at illuminating (part of) the mechanisms underlying the identification of insect species composition differences in gaps and closed forest patches.

Salary and conditions: Salary and benefits are according to public service positions in Bavaria (TV-L, 65%). The planned duration of the position is 3 years. The candidate (m/f/d) is expected to work in the team of the lab of Prof. Müller ( The position is located at the Ecological Fieldstation Fabrikschleichach in Northern Bavaria. The transcriptome analyses will be supervised by Dr. Heiko Vogel, Group Leader at the Department of Entomology at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena. We offer a strong research environment, combining ecological theory, entomology, conservation biology and advanced statistics. The Fieldstation provides a unique natural landscape with many opportunities for outdoor activities. Female scientists are particularly encouraged to apply. Disabled applicants will be preferentially considered in case of equivalent qualification.

Your application should be submitted as a single pd-file per email latest until 15th January 2020 to Planned starting date is March 2020.
Requirements: To answer the research question within the project, we are seeking to a highly motivated candidate (m/f/d/) with interest in ecology, traits, forest structure, entomology, fieldwork, transcriptome analyses. A background in R, experience in transcriptomes, fieldwork, e.g. light trapping, and in scientific writing in English are highly welcome. A car and driving license are mandatory.
Universität Würzburg
Ökologische Station Fabrikschleichach
Glashüttenstr. 5
96181 Rauhenebrach
Prof. Dr. Jörg Müller
0931 3183378
0931 3183089
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