Katedra zoologie

Přírodovědecká fakulta Jihočeské univerzity

Úvodní stránka Aktuality Volná místa Bristol, UK: PhD, invertebrate biodiversity and ecosystem function
Bristol, UK: PhD, invertebrate biodiversity and ecosystem function PDF Tisk Email

Does the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function change during conversion of tropical rainforest to oil palm plantation?

Supervisor: Dr Farnon Ellwood. All enquiries welcome:  Tato emailová adresa je chráněna před spamboty, abyste ji viděli, povolte JavaScript



Background The world is changing. Climate change and food security are of increasing concern, while the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services are forcing us to question how ecological communities interact with the physical environment. Answering this question is becoming increasingly urgent; we are in a mass extinction crisis and few theories can predict how communities of species will respond to environmental disturbance and shifting weather patterns. Tropical rainforests are particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic disturbance. The student will spend their first year studying a model rainforest at theEden Project in Cornwall; fieldwork in the second and third years will be based in Malaysia alongside members of our research group currently taking part in the Royal Society South East Asia Rainforest Research Programme. This programme is designed to facilitate the study of rainforest under different levels of disturbance; the study area is made up of forest fragments logged in a chronological sequence. The size and shape of each fragment is known, as are the identities of every tree species.

Aims The overall aim of the project is to explore whether functional redundancy (i.e. overlap in ecosystem services) can buffer against disturbance-induced species extinctions. Studies of the link between biodiversity and ecosystem function have yet to show how the removal of certain species affects nutrient cycling and the transfer of energy within ecosystems. By combining the study of invertebrates with microbial activity and nutrient stoichiometry (i.e. relationships between the relative quantities of nutrients cycling through the epiphytes), the student will show how the nutritional requirements of organisms shape ecological communities. Moreover, this work will reveal how disturbing the chemical balance of organisms changes the fluxes of elements and energy through ecosystems. In summary, we will reveal what happens when environmental disturbance upsets the balance of nature.

Methods The student will manipulate physical and biological conditions within epiphytic bird’s nest ferns (Asplenium nidus), an ecosystem model developed by us specifically for this purpose. Experimental manipulations within the epiphytes will be replicated in habitats where the ferns occur naturally, and which represent increasing severities of disturbance: in pristine rainforest; in selectively logged forest of different times since logging; and in oil palm plantations. Bird’s nest ferns are increasingly important as reservoirs of biodiversity in these progressively degraded habitats. This project will advance our knowledge in two ways: first, using ferns as ecosystem models, the student will manipulate invertebrate diversity and microclimate within the ferns and thus quantify the specific impacts of disturbance on biodiversity and ecosystem function; second, using ferns as naturally-occurring sampling units, the student will compare the results from their manipulative experiments with the genuine effects of large-scale habitat degradation. The ferns are ideal natural microcosms for this purpose: they are abundant, widely distributed, easy to manipulate, and can be sampled thoroughly. Moreover, the ferns contain suspended soil which not only provides the fern with nutrients but creates a unique habitat for a wide range of organisms.

Further details and how to apply

http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/research/postgraduateresearchstudy/studentshipopportunities/studentships2015/has.aspx.The studentships consist of an annual stipend of ÂŁ14,057. In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for 3 years. Please submit your completed application to  Tato emailová adresa je chráněna před spamboty, abyste ji viděli, povolte JavaScript  by Monday 29 June 2015.These studentships will start on 1 October 2015 or 1 January 2016.

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