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European Geosciences Union

PhD project: Controls on global vegetation distribution and dynamics

PhD project: Controls on global vegetation distribution and dynamics

International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles logo

International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles

In cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry houses a unique and flexible research program that grants German and foreign students a broad selection of learning opportunities while still maintaining a research focus.
The IMPRS-gBGC offers a PhD program specializing in global biogeochemistry and related Earth System sciences.


Jena, Germany


Relevant divisions
Biogeosciences (BG)
Earth and Space Science Informatics (ESSI)
Geodynamics (GD)

Full time

Entry level

Doctoral researchers receive either a scholarship which is free of tax and social insurance or a support contract.

Required education

Application deadline
11 September 2018

6 July 2018

Job description

by Nuno Carvalhais, Christiane Schmullius

Project description
Dynamic global vegetation models show that the spatial distribution of vegetation will likely change under future climate change scenarios. However, vegetation models have been only weakly evaluated regarding its ability to reproduce present-day vegetation distribution and dynamics. The aim of this project is to assess processes and model parameters that span across several temporal and spatial scales (e.g. from photosynthesis to succession and mortality processes) and that control currently observed patterns of vegetation. Thereby, several observations spanning from ecosystem measurements to novel satellite retrievals will be integrated with the LPJmL dynamic global vegetation model to identify appropriate model structures and to optimize model parameters. The project will contribute to a better understanding of the role of vegetation dynamics in the global carbon cycle and in the Earth system.
The successful candidate will work in close collaboration with national and international research teams.

Applications to the IMPRS-gBGC are open to well-motivated and highly-qualified students from all countries. Prerequisites for this PhD project are:

  • a Master’s degree in geoecology, ecology, geography, biology, environmental sciences, environmental informatics, or any related area is required for this position
  • basic knowledge in any of these fields: plant physiology, ecosystem ecology, global biogeography
  • experience in statistical analyses of environmental data and modeling
  • programming skills in a data analysis language such as Matlab, R, Python, or Julia
  • basic knowledge of programming in C and Unix environments are a plus
  • very good oral and written communication skills in English

The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals.