Postdoctoral or PhD Study in Mosquito Ecology-Community Ecology (Israel) ~

29 de enero de 2014

Postdoctoral or PhD Study in Mosquito Ecology-Community Ecology (Israel)

I am seeking a postdoctoral fellow or PhD student to work in my lab concerning on how diversity of controphic species and predators influence mosquito populations. Prior background in population modeling and/or experimental ecology, community ecology theory, mosquito biology, and aquatic ecology is desirable.  The work will be funded by an Israel Science Foundation grant whose title and abstract can be found below. . Matthew Spencer, University of Liverpool, serves as a consultant in this study, particularly for potential modeling studies.  Interested candidates should send to a curriculum vitae, a short statement of your research interests including how your qualifications fit with this particular research project, and contact information for at least three referees.  Starting date is flexible - between 1 April and 1 October 2014.
Title: Species Diversity, Community Simplification and Mosquito Dynamics
Scientific Abstract. Considerable theoretical and empirical evidence is accruing that species diversity causally and generally negatively affects such processes as disease infection prevalence and invasion success by unwanted species. Given the continued predicted decline in biodiversity, the concomitant losses of such ecosystem services should become increasingly important. Despite considerable recent exploration of this potential relationship with disease, prevalence and invasion success, mechanisms to explain these relations, and under what conditions they will occur, remain unclear. Surprisingly, biodiversity as a causal factor in preventing or dampening mosquito outbreaks has received little attention; not a single experimental manipulation across a diversity gradient has been conducted with mosquitoes. A comprehensive and novel study of this question is proposed here. We shall first examine how different natural and anthropogenic disturbances, which can have extensive impacts on community structure, affect mosquito dynamics in temporary pools. These include the frequency and timing of flash floods in wadi pools, desiccation followed by re-inundation, residual effects of a top predator (Salamandra infraimmaculata larvae) that enters temporary pools and then exits, and pesticides (both a broad-spectrum chemical pesticide and a bio-pesticide, specifically Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis). We shall measure how these disturbances affect community structure, mosquito oviposition habitat selection and larval performance. Using path analysis, we shall explore how changes in the community structure caused by the disturbances are responsible for changes in mosquito production. We intend to experimentally assess for the first time, how diversity gradients of species – both species sharing the same trophic level of mosquitoes and diversity of predators interacting with other factors such as bottom-up effects, affect mosquito production. We shall explore theoretically how diversity affects mosquito populations and test this empirically using tents which cage an initial mosquito population and manipulated diversity of competitors and predators.
This proposed work will contribute conceptually to understanding the role of community and metacommunity structure in affecting invasibility success. The work will make particularly novel contributions to understanding the role of oviposition habitat selection in the overall question of biodiversity-invasibility in general and particularly with mosquitoes. The findings also will have strong applications in designing and managing habitats for the duel purpose of species diversity conservation and mosquito control.

Leon Blaustein

Director, Kadas Green Roofs Ecology Center
Head, Community Ecology Laboratory
Institute of Evolution and Department of Evolutionary & Environmental Biology
Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Haifa
199 Abba Hushi Rd, Haifa, 3498838, Israel
Tel. 972-4-8240736 (office); 972-4-9998881 (home)
Cell: 054-268-8290; Institute Fax:  972-4-8246554

Chief Editor, Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

"He [Rabin] knew that those who starve peace, feed extremism."
-Shimon Peres speaking at Rabin commemoration 7 Nov 09

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