FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes
FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes
FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes

To investigate the potential impact of climate change on phenological and physiological performance of key species of importance to Irish forestry (FitForests project)

School of Agriculture & Food Science

About the Project

The FITFORESTS project, funded by DAFM, is a joint research project between Teagasc, Athenry, University College Dublin, Maynooth University and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Northern Ireland. The project will collect new information on the adaptability of Irish forests to climate change to assess if the current range of species and seed origins used in Irish forestry are likely to be resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Advances in spring leaf emergence have been reported worldwide in recent decades. However, it is difficult to forecast phenological responses to environmental factors for a given species, due to a lack of knowledge mainly about chilling requirements and their interaction with warm-up requirements. This information will aid in decision making in relation to the sourcing of forest genetic material for reforesting regions experiencing climate change. There is a need to determine experimentally the interactions between chilling and heat-up requirements in forest tree species and origins, to improve the understanding and potentially allow the modelling of changes in phenological timing resulting from global warming. There is an increasing risk that adaptation to future climates will be limited and that potential productivity might not be realised if the material used is not suited to predicted future climate scenarios, so the research is timely in that regard.

PhD description
The UCD-led project task will focus on two main areas:
• Assess the impact of alterations in climate on adaptive aspects of phenological and physiological activity of key species and likely future origins - focussing on the juvenile period.
A growth chamber manipulation experiment will be used to investigate the impact of changes in a range of climatic inputs (e.g. water availability, temperature, increased CO2) on the growth and physiological activity of seedlings of selected key species.
• To test the physiological impact of climate stress focussing on mature tree parts.
By contrast with the juvenile period response of seedlings, the response of mature tree physiology to climatic stress will be examined using stress tests on tree parts (e.g. branches).

Applicants should have a good primary degree (First- or Second-class Honours) or M.Sc. in an appropriate discipline such as plant biology or forestry. The successful candidate should be highly motivated, have good communication skills and must be prepared to work within a multidisciplinary team and with other PhD students. A successful candidate will be required to have a full driving licence to facilitate the field collection of data.

This PhD Fellowship is a joint research project between Teagasc, Athenry and University College Dublin, Ireland. The student will be registered at UCD, working under the supervision of Dr Brian Tobin and Prof. Conor O’Reilly, and in association with Dr Niall Farrelly, Teagasc.

Application Procedure
Submit an electronic Curriculum Vitae and a letter of interest (as a single PDF file) to Dr Brian Tobin, UCD Forestry () quoting the reference number (20483).

Funding Notes

The fellowship provides a stipend of €18,000 for up to four years (€24,000 minus €6,000 UCD fees).
Candidates from outside the EU are eligible to apply but will be expected to provide evidence of sources of additional funds to cover excesses associated with Non-EU fees.
If English is not the applicant’s first language, a certificate of English language ability is required. For IELTS, an average score of 6.5 over all components and a minimum of 6.0 in each band on the Academic Version is required. Scores deemed to be comparable under different tests will be considered.


Please provide the names of two referees.

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