PhD thesis position 2013-2016

June 4, 2013

The UMR “Forest Ecology and Ecophysiology” based in Nancy, France, is looking for candidates for a PhD Contract (3 Yearswith the focus on:

Impact of soil nutritional status and soil water availability on root development of forest species in interactions: consequences for growth and water and carbon functioning 

Background: Competition between species can positively or negatively impact growth and functioning of these species. Many studies on the influence of biodiversity on the functioning of grassland ecosystems (e.g. Loreau 2010) showed facilitation processes between species or differentiation of ecological niches, which can lead to an increase in productivity of the considered ecosystem. On the contrary, the presence of certain species in the ecosystem can cause the loss of other less competitive species. Under soil water stress or soil limiting nutrient conditions, several morphological and physiological responses are involved in the maintenance and optimization of tree growth. Among these responses, the development and functioning of roots and their influence on plant functioning remain poorly understood.

The proposed thesis fits into this framework, where the interactions among plants for the acquisition and use of water and nutrients will be analyzed. The objective of this work is to study the root development and its dynamics for trees in interactions under limiting soil water and nutrient conditions. More precisely, we will study:

– the influence of water and mineral stress on root development, growth, and water and carbon functioning of young seedlings in competition or not.

– the influence of interspecific interactions on rooting depth and on microbial communities associated with the roots: implications for water and mineral nutrition.

– the impact of competition from herbaceous vegetation on the root growth of oak and pine in contrasted soil water conditions.

The candidate will perform a large set of ecophysiological measurements (growth, distribution of water and nutrients in the soil, leaf gas exchange, carbon and oxygen isotope composition …) on the aboveground and belowground compartments of trees and the neighbouring vegetation in plantations in France or in controlled conditions at INRA Nancy.

The proposed project will allow the young scientist to acquire a thorough knowledge of forest ecology and functional ecology, especially on forestry practices in temperate forests. The young scientist will acquire multidisciplinary skills in the areas of basic and finalized research that will allow him/her easily adapting to future offered research positions.

Applicants should hold a Master of Science (M.Sc.) or equivalent degree (M2 in France) in a discipline relevant to ecology, or forestry, or plant biology. The applicants must demonstrate a strong interest in conducting interdisciplinary research.

For further information, please contact one of the following addresses and send your application including a cover letter, recent grades (M.Sc., or Master degree 1 and 2), and detailed CV to:

Damien BONAL, INRA Nancy, UMR EEF – Université Nancy / INRA, 54280 Champenoux – FRANCE; tel: +(33) 3 83 39 73 43; fax: +(33) 3 83 39 40 22; mail:; website :

And Marie-Béatrice BOGEAT-TRIBOULOT, INRA Nancy, UMR EEF – Université Nancy / INRA, 54280 Champenoux – FRANCE; tel: +(33) 3 83 39 41 19; fax: +(33) 3 83 39 40 22; mail:; website :