Studierende finden an der ETH Zürich ein Umfeld, das eigenständiges Denken fördert, Forschende ein Klima, das zu Spitzenleistungen inspiriert.
The Department of Environmental Systems Science (D-USYS) conducts research and offers studies into the conditions and functions of environmental systems. It develops solutions and methods for managing them on a sustainable basis.
Plant biodiversity is affected by both contemporary and historical processes at a range of spatial and temporal scales. Over long time-scales, biodiversity is shaped by evolutionary processes driven by the adaptation to environmental gradients and geographical processes such as the formation of barriers and migration pathways. Over short time-scales, biodiversity responds to the variety of available habitats formed by climate, geology and topographic gradients, land cover and anthropogenic land use, or variability of biogeographical realms. The Hengduan mountains of China (Yunnan, SW Sichuan, E Tibet plateau) are exceptionally rich in plant species and forming a distinct biodiversity hotspot outside of the tropics. The ETH-funded project BECCY aims at studying the processes that shape this exceptional diversity.
This PhD project will empirically analyze the various geological, climatic and ecological drivers behind the unique plant biodiversity of the Hengduan Mountain region in China. The thesis will make use of a rich floristic data set available for the region and of the data on processes developed in the project. It will disentangle the influence of historical (tectonic and land formation processes, evolution, etc.) and contemporary (climate, topography, etc.) drivers on the regional diversity and on the turnover between regions. Not only taxonomic diversity and turnover, but also phylogenetic and functional diversity components will be analyzed in order to improve our understanding of the processes that have shaped this exceptional biodiversity and how it is structured in space and along gradients. The thesis is embedded in an interdisciplinary, international project that explores the factors that have resulted in this unique topographic and biological diversity by combining expertise from earth systems, climate and evolutionary modelling, and empirical earth science and ecological analyses of the whole Hengduan Mountain System for the last 60 Million years. The PhD candidate will work both at ETHZ and the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL. The thesis will be co-supervised by Prof. Loïc Pellissier and Prof. Niklaus E. Zimmermann. Additionally, Prof. Zhiheng Wang (Peking University) will be involved as close project partner for this PhD thesis.
We are looking for a highly motivated candidate that holds an MSc or Diploma degree (or equivalent) in environmental sciences, ecology, evolution, plant biology, or a related field. The candidate should have a strong interest in plant biodiversity, plant ecology and/or plant evolutionary biology. Good communication skills in English (written and spoken) and the ability to work within a team are essential. Employment will be according to with funding secured for 4 years by ETH Zurich. While employment will be at ETH Zurich, the workspace will be both at the Landscape Ecology group at ETH (located in the center of Zurich) and at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL (Birmensdorf, 30’ from ETH, ). The PhD thesis will start as soon as the candidate is selected and available.
We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents: a curriculum vitae, a brief statement of research interests (1 page), copies of bachelor and master transcripts, a list of courses taken and grades received, a summary of your master thesis (if completed/applicable), and names and contact information of 2-3 referees. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.
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