About the Project
The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences is inviting applications for a PhD studentship fully-funded by the A. G. Leventis Foundation to commence in September 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.
The student would be based in Geography in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.
The combined effects of a hotter and drier climate and land-use is making forests more susceptible to fire, resulting in forest degradation that is increasing the loss of carbon and diversity across Amazonia.
The PhD candidate will develop important mechanistic understandings of the finer-scale ecological processes underpinning forest degradation and recovery by focusing on: i) analysing how degradation and recovery affect the structure and composition of forests and; ii) understanding how forests respond to multiple disturbances, and what factors influence that response. COVID-permitting, the student will undertake intensive fieldwork in collaboration with local students and researchers at existing and newly established forest monitoring plots using ground-based long-term tree census and fine-resolution airborne lidar. These data will be used to assess vegetation structure and species composition of forest in various states of degradation and recovery, including intact forests, logged, logged and burned, and logged and burned multiple times, representing a cascade in degradation.
By analysing the interaction between forest dynamics and composition and how these vary with climate and environment, the student will build critical understanding of how forests recover from disturbance including the rate at which carbon is stored in recovering biomass, and the resilience of the recovering vegetation to further future disturbances and climate anomalies. The response of contemporary forests to disturbance will be evaluated against historical baselines (decades to centuries) using a comprehensive Amazon Basin-wide dataset Dr Feldpausch’s research team has developed on centennial-scale forest disturbance based on reconstruction of disturbance history (e.g., fire) for plots across Amazonia.
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