Position type: doctoral student
Number of vacancies: 1
Discipline: biological sciences
Application deadline: 31/08/2021
Detailed information about recruitment process can be found on the website: http://www.idpan.poznan.pl/index.php/doctoral-school-pds-ipas/informatio... and https://www.ibch.poznan.pl/pl/main-pl/st-doktoranckie/psd-ipan/
Research topic: Functional traits intraspecific variability of forest herbaceous species: sources and consequences
Principal Investigator / Research group: prof. Andrzej M. Jagodziński, Department of Ecology
One of the most promising tools for predicting future ecosystem changes are plant functional traits: morphological, physiological, and phenological traits that affect the growth, reproduction, and survival of individuals and populations. In our research project, we aim to study the intraspecific trait variability (ITV) of forest herbaceous plant species. This group of species is crucial for macro- and microelement cycling in forest ecosystems yet remains poorly recognized. On the other hand, ITV allows for a better understanding of plants’ adaptive capacities, which will significantly affect species’ responses under changing environmental conditions. The two main aims of the project are to provide the missing data about functional traits and to study the less addressed ITV as an important source of the total variability of plants' functional diversity. During the project we will test the following hypotheses:
The size of ITV is proportionally dependent on the spatial scale studied.
Climate-related factors and competition-driven factors affect ITV at a similar level.
ITV of evolutionarily younger species is higher than in the case of the older ones, which shows that phylogenetics determines the ITV of the species studied.
ITV of the species studied affects their functioning (germination, decomposition, and net production), simultaneously influencing ecosystem functioning.
Increasing sample size due to ITV assessment will broaden the known range of trait values and will lead to showing higher variability of the species traits and to the shift of currently used mean trait values.
Different traits will vary to a different extent.
We will focus on measurements of the six following traits: height, leaf area, leaf nitrogen content, seed mass, specific leaf area, and stem-specific density. As part of the study on the ITV sources, we planned to check how the ITV is affected by the season, aspect, elevation, light availability, phylogenetics, climate continentality, within-habitat, and among-habitats interactions, and intraspecific competition. As a consequence of ITV, we plan to study decomposition, biomass production, and seed germination. We will compare the impact of different factors on the ITV and we will assess what are the consequences of ITV for the functioning of the ecosystem. A significant product of our project will be a robust database covering over 100 forest herbaceous species.
Ph.D. student’s tasks will cover the selection of a significant part of study plots, plant material collection, functional traits measurements, analyses of ITV sources, and consequences of ITV for the functioning ecosystems. During the research project, the Ph.D. student will learn differentiated tools from the field of functional ecology. The Ph.D. student will learn to establish study plots in the field and how to describe them, to identify plant species occurring in temperate forests, to collect and analyze plant material, to measure plant functional traits. The Ph.D. student will gain new analytical skills, including phylogenetic analyses. After collecting the data, the Ph.D. student will perform models to check the impact of environmental factors on the ITV and to study the impact of ITV on forest ecosystem functioning. We expect that we will publish the results in the best international scientific journals regarding functional ecology, forest ecology, and plant biology. We also aim to disseminate the results during the most relevant international conferences. In the project, we planned the participation of the Ph.D. student in at least two international conferences.
During the research project, we offer collaboration with a research group characterized by a wide range of interests, including plant ecology and nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems. Joining our research team will allow for participation in extensive research which aims to understand the functioning of the forest ecosystems under changing climate. We offer the ability to freely exchange ideas and to develop scientifically in a dynamic, permanently growing research team with significant experience in publishing in the best scientific journals.
Additional information may be provided Principal Investigator / Research group: prof. Andrzej M. Jagodziński (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: (+48) 61 817 00 33.
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