Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL
Zürcherstrasse 111
8903 Birmensdorf
Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL
8903 Birmensdorf
This publication has expired. The last date when this publication was published was 10/16/21.
The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL is part of the ETH Domain. Approximately 600 people work on the sustainable use and protection of the environment and on the handling of natural hazards.
PhD Student in “Adaptation during range expansion in European beech”

The Evolutionary Genetics Group (EGG) is interested in understanding the roles of demography and natural selection in shaping the life-histories and the genetic composition of forest tree populations across the landscape. The group uses field experiments, statistical models, and individual-based computer simulations to answer fundamental evolutionary questions and to aid adaptive forest management decisions. In the framework of the ERC Consolidator Grant, MyGardenOfTrees, starting approx. in December 2021, we offer a 3-year position for a
MyGardenOfTrees is aimed at performing a species range-wide transplant experiment to assess the capacity of regeneration of two forest tree species, European beech and silver fir, as well as their Mediterranean and oriental sister species. The experimental part of the project is based on participatory science, involves foresters all across Europe, and is coordinated by a dedicated senior researcher. Two PhD students will be hired on this project working on complementary topics. 

The current PhD position will focus on understanding the adaptive and demographic processes that have led to the range expansion of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) after the last glacial maximum both at the genomic and phenotypic level. Fagus sylvatica is best considered as a species complex whose current range extends from the Pyrenees to northern Iran. Despite the large genetic diversity of beech populations in Minor Asia and on the Balkan peninsula, a single lineage has colonized most of Europe. Had the colonizing lineage have superior performance, and does it outperform other lineages still today? Could current beech die-back across Europe be partly attributed to the reduced genetic diversity due to the expansion load or is it due to ongoing unprecedented climate change? Could the introduction of other beech lineages and hybridization between them be used to mitigate future climate change? The selected PhD student will investigate these questions using a combination of genomics, common garden experiments (performed by foresters) and environmental data.
The ideal candidate holds a Masters degree in evolutionary biology, genetics, plant science or in a related discipline. S/he is expected to have experience and a keen interest in evolutionary biology, forest genetics, bioinformatics, and statistics, is fluent in English, has good written and oral communication skills, and can work independently. The PhD thesis will be supervised by Dr Katalin Csilléry (WSL, leader of the EGG), Prof Yvonne Willi (University of Basel), Dr Christoph Sperisen (WSL), and will be in collaboration with the Genetic Diversity Center of the ETH Zurich. The PhD candidate will be based at WSL in Birmensdorf with short stays at the University of Basel. The PhD degree will be awarded by the University of Basel and the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center’s PhD program in Plant science. 

Applications, including a motivation letter, a summary of past relevant accomplishments, a CV, and the names and contact details of two referees should be sent to Michèle Bucher, Human Resources WSL, by uploading the requested documents through the WSL webpage until 31 October 2021. Applications via email will not be considered. Katalin Csilléry, katalin.csillery(at), Tel. +41 44 739 23 43, will be happy to answer any questions or offer further information. The WSL strives to increase the proportion of women in its employment, which is why qualified women are particularly called upon to apply for this position.
Zürcherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf