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Supra-specific Janzen-Connell effects: insect herbivores responding to plant phylogeny and chemistry in a Papua New Guinea rainforest

Project Description

We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate to join a project exploring plant-herbivore interactions in a lowland rainforest in Papua New Guinea. The study combines an experimental field component examining the impact of herbivores on plants with laboratory-based analysis of plant phylogeny and secondary chemistry. The research team is highly motivated and seeks to explore the drivers of tropical diversity. Specifically, the project focuses on analysing the evolution of chemical defences in large tropical tree genera and exploring the counter-adaptations employed by insect herbivores. We are looking for a candidate that has
• a MSc degree (non-negotiable requirement for this PhD programme)
• a deep interest in the ecology of insects and/or plants
• exceptional skills in
[i] community ecology of insects or plants, or
[ii] phylogenetic analysis, or
[iii] plant chemistry analysis, or
[iv] biostatistics; experience in both laboratory and field work is required.
• fluency in spoken and written English
• an ability to work independently, and manage small teams of collaborators and para-taxonomists
The successful applicant will join the Ecology Department at the Biology Center of the Czech Academy of Science and the Zoology Department of the University of South Bohemia. The candidate will live in Ceske Budejovice (Czech Republic), conduct field work at the New Guinea Binatang Research Center, and carry out the analysis of secondary chemistry together with our collaborators in Germany, Finland and the USA. The PhD study will be supervised by Vojtech Novotny and advised by Martin Volf, and externally by Simon Segar (Harper Adams Univ., UK). Our Department is a diverse, international team (11 nationalities) studying ecology, evolution and biogeography, and a world-class centre for interaction network research with regular publications in Science, Nature and other leading journals. Both the Czech Republic and Papua New Guinea are easy-going countries where life is interesting.

The deadline for applications is February 20th 2019, with a start date of April 1st 2019 (negotiable). To apply please send a CV, contact details for three references, and a cover letter stating qualifications, previous work and motivation to Vojtech Novotny () where you can also send any queries.

More information at:

Funding Notes

Applicants from all countries are eligible. The student will receive a scholarship fully covering living expenses in the Czech Republic for the 4-year PhD course.

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