New postdoc position in advancing trait- based ecology – 2019

Opening for a 2-year postdoctoral position in Trait-based ecology (ExperTS) to start Fall 2019 – University of Arizona, USA and University of Bergen, Norway.

Application deadline July 15th, 2019

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ExperTSExperiments, Traits, Synthesis: Using knowledge from global ecological experiments to validate, assess, and improve trait-based theory


The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Department at the University of Arizona in collaboration with the University of Bergen in Norway is advertising for a postdoctoral position in developing and advancing trait-based ecology and theory to start fall 2019. The position is part of the ExperTS (Experiments, Traits, and Synthesis) project will utilize knowledge from global ecological experiments to validate, assess, and improve trait-based theory

As the effects of climate change take place at an increasing pace, we urgently need tools for communicating and planning for the future of biodiversity and the future of our world.

ExperTS is motivated by the realization that more powerful tests of biodiversity theories need to move beyond species richness and explicitly focus on mechanisms that generate diversity, and that these can be attained via community trait composition. By combining the project consortium’s strengths in experimental global change ecology and trait-based theory development, ExperTS offers a unique and powerful framework to advance and improve empirical global change ecology, ecological theory via the synthesis of theory and experiments in ecology.


Experimental plot on Mount Gongga with open-topped chambers  to provide a warmer microcosm and experimental whole-community transplants from further up and down the mountain Photo:  Aud Halbritter


Specifically, ExperTS will integrate the outlines of a more predictive theory to scale from traits to communities to ecosystems that has begun to emerge over the last decade (see here, here, and here). The goal is to validate, apply, and improve this theory using experimental data from our global change research projects and observational data collected through our collaborative networks. ExperTS will offer:

(i) a greater recognition and use of the theoretical, conceptual frameworks and experimental methods in biological research,

(ii) development of theoretical expertise and comparative research between different ecosystems and academic cultures,

(iii) unique student opportunities for courses and international research experiences, and

(iv) institutional collaboration over student-active research and research-based education. Six researchers discussing plant traits in the Gongga Mountains of China

The proposed synthesis of theory and experimental data will inform how global change influences ecosystem services important to society. Based on a strong track record in research and educational collaboration on ecosystem responses to climate change, ExperTS will support a partnership between nine institutions in Norway, China, South Africa, Canada and the USA. For more background on this network of researchers please see here , here, and here.

ExperTS will test the hypothesis that the shifts in temperature and precipitation, which are central experimental manipulations in our ecological projects, are best viewed as changes in the shape of plant functional trait distributions. We will test the prediction that the magnitude of shifts in these moments should depend on environmental change severity in a quantifiable way, and ultimately be related to plant carbon balance. The postdoc will play a key role in developing, executing and coordinating the ExperTS research and educational activities.

Specifically, the successful candidate will:

  • Collate data from a global network of observational and experimental studies in close collaboration with project partners
  • Develop his/her own research questions and hypotheses related to the overall project
  • Analyze data and write and publish research papers

Qualifications and personal qualities:

  • PhD in related field
  • The successful candidate should have a background that gives a good understanding of trait-based ecological theory, plant ecology, functional ecology,alpine ecology, climate change impacts.
  • Have experience in global change ecology, a relevant statistical and/or programming background, and critical thinking and writing skills. Experience in meta-analysis, modelling, vegetation monitoring, and/or plant trait analyses is an advantage.
  • Research is a team effort, and all project members must be prepared to contribute to common aspects of empirical and analytical work and assist others with their projects in addition to working on their own research program.
  • Be able to work independently, but also have good collaborative skills as the postdoc will be part of a highly integrated project.
  • Proficiency in both written and oral English

A view of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado with orange arrows marking the elevations of experimental sites and an inset map of western US

Location of long-term experimental plots and long-term monitoring at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Gothic Colorado Photo: Brian Enquist


To apply please provide a CV, a short 1 page statement why you believe this position best matches your career development, and the names of three references. Please email Profs Enquist and Vandvik directly at and





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