A Postdoctoral researcher position, for 1 year, on simulation modelling of learning in insects in changing environments
The researcher will contribute to the ARC (UCLouvain funded “Action de recherche concertée”) project “ Learning as a key driver of adaptation to human-induced rapid environmental change: a behavioural biogeographic approach. Contracts will be based on Belgian regulations, depending on prior research experience, and will include the benefits of the Belgian social security such as health insurance. This offer is also published on Euraxess.
Objectives: To elaborate a generic individual-based model to conceptualise and explore the potential role of learning in how animals deal with rapidly changing environment
Research description: The project investigates how learning in insects, specifically in butterflies, can play a role in their responses to rapid environmental change. Learning is gradually being recognised as much more widespread than previously assumed. Many existing distributional models do not account either for such flexible behaviours nor for environmental dynamics as interacting with habitat use and colonisation. Our particular research aims at elaborating a conceptual model and implementing an individual based model that will assess the potential role of learning in insects in persisting and potentially spreading in rapidly changing environments, with a focus on land use. The model will aim at covering a species of interest in the project, the speckled wood butterfly Pararge aegeria, but will also explore other arthropod species such as disease vector mosquitoes and/or ticks, for which such questions are only just about emerging.
Profile required: A researcher holding a PhD degree, experienced in individual based and simulation modelling with a strong background in ecology, ideally with an interest in environmental monitoring. Experience with disease vectors is an asset and interest in them a necessity. The candidate should demonstrate an excellent command of the English language, good communication skills, and ability to work in a research team and to establish a local and international network.
Work environment: The researcher will join a team working on the geography of health phenomena using a range of modelling tools and on a diversity of systems, and will interact closely with project members focused on ecology. All teams are part of the Earth & Life Institute (UCLouvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium) that carries a broad diversity of environmental an biodiversity research.
The position is planned for 1 year, with possibilities for extension depending on funding availability. Candidates should submit a cover letter detailing qualifications and research interests, CV with full list of publications, and names and contacts of three referees to: Prof. Sophie Vanwambeke – email@example.com Review of applications will start on February 1st, 2021. Starting date: As soon as possible
Postdoc position in Evolutionary Ecology
We are looking for highly motivated candidates to apply for a 2-year postdoctoral position, funded through UCLouvain university (“Action de recherche concertée”), in the laboratory of Prof Caroline Nieberding (https://nieberdinglab.be/, UCLouvain, Belgium).
Animals were long thought not to learn. Over the years research has, however, revealed that most animals do learn to some extent. This paradigm shift has led to the hypothesis that learning is a form of behavioural plasticity that participates to rapid adaptation of natural populations in nature, in response to human induced habitat degradations. Yet, the adaptive value of learning remains rarely quantified so far. This project will quantify the adaptive value of learning in the field in a number of butterfly species facing increasing reduction and fragmentation of suitable habitats. Butterflies are flagship and bioindicator species of the quality of European natural habitats, and we have occurrence data spanning several decades. This project aims at providing one of the first field-based estimates of the selective value of learning for a key behavioural trait, oviposition site selection (“OSS” hereafter). OSS is key to colonisation of suitable habitats in butterflies, the larvae of which have only a low mobility. As learning is costly, we expect that increased learning and memory skills are correlated to reduced survival and/or egg production and we will quantify potential trade-offs associated with learning and memory.
The postdoctoral research will include experiments in the field in Belgium and ecologically-relevant experiments in the laboratory, where field-caught animals can be monitored. The ideal candidate for this position will have a strong background in behavioural ecology, statistical analyses, expertise in butterfly ecology and a capacity for creative and critical thinking. The candidate will have opportunities to learn some of the specific skills required for the project by our network of national and international collaborators. Applicants should hold a PhD diploma. The deadline for applications is December 15th, or until the application is filled.
The salary will be around 2000 euro netto per month plus benefits (health insurance,…) which are included in the Belgian system. Our University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer, and is in a French-speaking region of Belgium, but the language for meetings and scientific interactions is English. For background information about our university, see https://uclouvain.be/en/index.html. Applications should be sent to Prof. C. Nieberding (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Applications will include: 1) a motivation letter including a statement of interests; 2) full CV including list of publications; 3) Contact details of at least 2 referees. Informal inquiries are welcome. We will start reviewing applications as they arrive until the appropriate candidate is selected, and the project will be starting in Spring 2021.
MixForChange – PhD Fellowship
MixForChange: Mixed Forest plantations for climate Change mitigation and adaptation
PhD scholarship in agricultural science and bioengineering
Université catholique de Louvain is offering a PhD scholarship in agricultural science and bioengineering with expected commencement March 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.
Project title: Effects of mycorrhizal fungi on C, water and nutrient availability to trees growing in single or mixed-species communities.
PhD Project description
Mycorrhizal fungi (either arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) or ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi) are key soil microorganisms associated to the vast majority of agricultural, horticultural and forestry plants, improving their growth and resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses. They are thus of wide importance in agricultural/forestry practices. Their role in carbon, water and nutrient cycling is of paramount importance, particularly under conditions of climate change. Within this thesis, communities of mycorrhizal fungi that comprise single to several species will be grown in greenhouse in association with mono or mixed tree-species communities to test the hypothesis that changes in mycorrhizal community modify (i) the total pool of available resources and water, and (ii) the way this pool is redistributed between the tree species. We will also test the hypothesis that a community of mixed tree species connected with a single fungus will better exploit/redistribute nutrients and water than a community that comprises one single tree species connected with the fungus. The mesocosm experiments will be conducted under contrasting conditions of nutrient and water availability.
The PhD position is associated to a larger European project, MixForChange, funded by the European Commission for 36 months.
Principal supervisors: Prof. Stéphane Declerck, email@example.com, +32 10 47 46 44 and Prof. Quentin Ponette, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel +32 10 47 36 16.
Brief description of MixForChange
Forest landscape restoration and afforestation have recently received much international attention as a crucial opportunity for mitigating climate change (CC). In the face of CC, adaptation and mitigation by forests are ultimately linked, because the ability of forests to sequester carbon (C) in the long run depends on the ability of trees to cope with multiple stresses. A growing body of evidence suggests that mixed forest plantations, i.e., plantations where several tree species are mixed, are more efficient in sequestrating C, while better coping with CC-related stress. Mixed plantations thus represent an opportunity for an important nature-based solution for CC mitigation and adaptation.
However, monocultures still dominate the world’s forest plantations. One of the possible factors that may have prevented the expansion of mixed plantations at large scales is insufficient scientific evidence for practitioners and policy-makers. Using a global network of forest biodiversity experiments (TreeDivNet), we will provide a mechanistic understanding of how tree diversity, species identities and management (thinning and fertilization) influence both the potential of mixed forest plantations to mitigate (C sequestration) and adapt (drought and herbivory resilience) to CC, in a win-win approach. In addition, we will translate this knowledge into guidelines that can be widely adopted by practitioners and policy-makers.
MixForChange will therefore make an important contribution to promoting mixed forest plantations as nature-based solutions to fight CC.
The position is available for a period of 36 months. Your key tasks as a PhD student in MixForChange are:
● Participate in the research environment at the host institution and the network activities of MixForChange
● Manage your research project
● Take PhD courses
● Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
● Participate in congresses
● Teach and disseminate your research
Key criteria for the assessment of candidates
● A master’s degree related to the subject area of the project
● The grade point average achieved should be more than 75 % of the maximum
● Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD programme
- background in microbiology, plant-microbe interactions, molecular biology, forestry sciences
- skills in statistics and data analysis, and experience with common statistical softwares such as SAS or R;
● Language skills: fluency in English
Formal requirements and eligibility
At the time of commencement, it is required that the candidate shall at the date of recruitment, be in the first four years (full time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.
Terms of employment
Recruitment and Terms of appointment will be done according to the rules and regulations of the hosting institution. The bursary is ~1900 € per month. No extra charge is to be paid.
Place of Employment
Université catholique de Louvain, Earth and Life Institute, Laboratory of mycology and Forest sciences, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Application Procedure The application, in English, must be submitted by mail to Stephan.email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
● Motivation Letter, stating why you want to pursue a PhD career and to what extent does the given project complies with your skills and ambition
● Full CV including studies, research experience, work experience and publications if any
● Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
● 3 referees (Name, address, telephone & email)
● Documentation of English language qualifications
The Université catholique de Louvain wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of age, gender, race, religion or ethnic background.
The deadline for applications is 15/01/2021. Applications received later than this date will not be considered.
Recruitment Process: After the expiry of the deadline for applications, we will evaluate all applications and select the best three candidates based on the quality of the candidates’ previous training, qualifications and skills (as listed above), CV and their motivation for the research topic. The best three candidates will be interviewed by visio-conference or in presence if possible. The applicants will be notified of the final selection.
For specific information about the PhD scholarship, please contact the principal supervisors Prof. Stéphane Declerck (Stephan.email@example.com, Tel. +32 10 47 46 44 and and Prof. Quentin Ponette, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel +32 10 47 36 16.