4-year PhD position (50% TV-L E13) at Freie Universität Berlin: Modelling the mangrove-saltmarsh ecotone – which mechanisms drive their resilience and spatial patterns under global change?

Are you fascinated by ecological modelling? Do you like to understand how underlying processes impact whole landscape patterns and how this might shift under global change? In the Theoretical Ecology group at FU Berlin, we are looking for a PhD candidate with interest and experience in process-based simulation modelling.

The position is associated to the project “Mangrove-Saltmarsh ecotone patterns as indicators for critical impacts of sea level rise and climate change on coastal wetlands – MASCOT”, funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG). MASCOT aims at understanding emerging spatial patterns and their dynamics in mangrove-saltmarsh ecotones of (sub)tropical coastal wetlands under climate change. These ecotones
comprise the transition between mangrove habitats, which are mostly located in the regularly flooded zone, and saltmarsh habitats, which dominate the upper, drier zone. In collaboration with the Forest Biometrics and Systems Analysis group at TU Dresden and project partners from South and Central America, Asia and Australia, we will extend and apply the simulation model MANGA for mangrove ecosystems by a module for saltmarsh plants. The extended model will allow for simulating the response of the mangrove-saltmarsh ecotone to altered hydrological conditions (i) to determine the role of biotic and abiotic feedbacks on emerging spatial patterns of the vegetation, (ii) to develop new theories on the resilience of ecotones and (iii) to develop indicators of spatio-temporal shifts in ecotone patterns as early warning signal for critical environmental changes.

Your tasks
• Extension of the simulation model MANGA by saltmarshes and coupling with hydrological processes
• Parameterization and validation of the model by literature and field data, with the option to do some field work in Thailand yourself
• Simulation studies on the dynamics of salt marshes and the whole ecotone under different environmental conditions, statistical evaluation of results
• Communication of research results in international peer-reviewed journals and at conferences
• Planning and active participation in field trips in the (sub)tropical countries of our collaboration partners
• Conduct or contribute to courses on quantitative methods in ecology

Your profile
• Master degree or equivalent in biology, ecology, geo- or landscape-ecology, environmental science, system science or a related field
• Very good knowledge of ecology and interest in hydrological processes
• Interest in the study of emergent properties of ecosystems
• Programming experience in R, C++, Python, or a similar programming language
• Knowledge of the development or application of simulation models
• Knowledge of methods for parameterization, calibration, or validation of simulation models
• Very good knowledge of statistical data analysis
• Fluent written and spoken English
• Motivation and willingness to work closely with and travel to collaboration partners
• Interest in academic teaching

For further information, please contact Britta Tietjen (britta.tietjen@fu-berlin.de). The position will start as soon as possible with a deadline for applications on the 24.01.2022 (see official, German job announcement). Payment is according to the German public tariff (50% TV-L E13). Applications should be submitted via email, and preferably as single pdf-file to Prof. Dr. Britta Tietjen, Theoretical Ecology, Freie Universität Berlin: sandra.kries@fu-berlin.de) with the identifier 21221100/48/21. Applications should include a letter of motivation (1-2 pages), a CV, contact details of two references, transcripts or degree certificates including grades and proofs of special qualifications. Freie Universität Berlin is an equal opportunity employer and specifically encourages female candidates to apply. Disabled persons will be preferred in case of equal qualification.