lundi 1 octobre 2012

3-year PhD position

3-year PhD position in the research group of Dr. Dennis Hansen at the University of Zurich, Switzerland
From understanding to predicting:

Giant tortoises as drivers of the seed dispersal network of Aldabra

This PhD project in Ecology is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and will be based at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies (IEU). The Aldabra Atoll in the Western Indian Ocean is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to 100,000 giant tortoises (Aldabrachelys gigantea) – the largest surviving population of giant tortoises in the world. The project aims at dramatically improving our understanding of the role of the giant tortoises as seed dispersers. We will investigate multiple levels of ecological organisation, from individual behaviour and the outcome of pairwise interactions, to community-level interaction patterns. The project has three components: 1) developing a theoretical individual-based model of seed dispersal by giant tortoises and experimentally field-testing its predictions by radio tracking artificial ingestible seeds, 2) constructing the seed dispersal network of Aldabra (camera traps, fecal analyses), and 3) experimentally evaluating the effect of tortoise gut passage on on seed germination and seedling establishment.
You are: a creative, driven, and passionate student with a large appetite for an ambitious PhD-project. Two long field seasons on Aldabra are foreseen, without any possibility of holidays away from the atoll or visits from the outside. Extensive fieldwork experience in isolated and/or harsh places is therefore essential, as is a robust health. On Aldabra you will be working alongside a small team of local and international researchers and managers. You are independent but with an open and flexible personality, as plans can and will change during fieldwork. You have excellent writing and analytical skills. Research experience on any of the topics: (tropical) islands, tortoises, seed dispersal, or movement ecology, is a plus.
We are: a dynamic research group focusing on islands and interactions. We work closely together with the group of Prof. Owen Petchey and several other groups within our institute. The institute is very international and the working language is English. Most importantly, the project will be embedded in ongoing joint long-term research undertaken by the Zurich-Aldabra Research Platform (ZARP) and the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF).
The preferred starting date is mid-2013, and applicants should have or expect to obtain an MSc (or equivalent) in a relevant field. The salary corresponds to UZH regulations. Applications must include: 1) a cover letter with clear statements of your motivation, what you bring to this project, and what you expect to get out of it, 2) a detailed CV, including publications and graduate/undergraduate degree certificates, 3) contact details of two referees, and 4) a 1-page summary of your MSc-project. Compile all the material into a single pdf file and send it to the email address below. Review of applications starts on 01 November 2012, but candidates will be considered until the position is filled.
If you have any questions, just ask! Email application and correspondence to: