PhD in predictive ecology (Switzerland) ~

4 de junio de 2015

PhD in predictive ecology (Switzerland)

Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
University of Zürich

Predicting the consequences of environmental change requires an understanding of their effects across multiple levels of ecological organisation: individual, population, community, and ecosystem. Also required is an understanding of how effects at one level of organisation create knock-on effects at other levels of organisation. For example, how changes in individual behaviour translate into a change in population dynamics. Laboratory-based experiments with communities of aquatic microorganisms (e.g. ciliates) provide an excellent test bed for studying environmental change across levels of ecological organisation. Long-term experiments (many generations of the dominant organisms) can be carried out during quite short experiments, and observations can be made across levels of ecological organisation. Carefully constructing communities in terms of species composition, i.e. containing few to many species, short to long food chains, and low to high trophic diversity will further allow to manipulate ecological complexity, as found in natural systems. Mathematical models fitted to the observed data can be used to link observations across levels of organisation and make predictions. Joined together, these features allow for thorough, novel, and exciting research about the predictability of ecological dynamics in changing environments.

The PhD is part of a SNF funded research project concerning the predictability of temperature effects on ecological dynamics. The PhD will study lab-based microbial communities subjected to experimental manipulations of environmental temperature using recently developed automated video monitoring ( The postdoctoral position (held by Frank Pennekamp) will focus on theory and synthesis. The SNF project is joined in the Predictive Ecology Group by numerous related projects researching ecological predictability.

The PhD will be jointly supervised by Prof. Owen Petchey and Dr. Frank Pennekamp, in the Predictive Ecology Group of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zürich, Switzerland. Funding is available for at least 3.5 years. Applicants must have a Masters Level Degree in Ecology or a closely related subject, and should provide as a single pdf a CV, including the names and contact details of three academic referees, and a cover letter including relevant information (e.g., highlighting relevant previous experience and interests). Informal enquiries should be made to or Applications should be submitted by July 1st 2015 via the Life Science Zurich Graduate School (select the PhD Program in Ecology as your first choice) We invite outstanding applicants to visit.

For more information
Owen Petchey (
Frank Pennekamp (
Predictive Ecology Group (

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