For our ERC-Synergy project Pathways of resilience and evasion of tipping in ecosystems (RESILIENCE
), coordinated by Utrecht University, the University of Leiden offers a PhD position for a self-motivated candidate with a strong scientific background. Your job
There is an urgent need to understand the effects that global change can have on the Earth, its system components and ecosystems. One area of critical concern is the imminent abrupt and irreversible critical transitions of ecosystems through tipping points. Recent discoveries indicate that such tipping could be evaded and even reversed in ecosystems through spatial pattern formation, thereby creating pathways of resilience.
The aim of RESILIENCE is to fundamentally advance our understanding and predictions of tipping points and critical transitions in ecosystems and reveal how these can be evaded and even reversed through spatial pattern formation. RESILIENCE will develop a new theory for emerging resilience through spatial pattern formation and link this with real tipping-prone biomes undergoing accelerating global change: savanna and tundra. The candidate will benefit from the expertise of the four Principal Investigators (PIs) in the RESILIENCE project: Arjen Doelman, a mathematician at Leiden University, Max Rietkerk, an ecologist at Utrecht University, Ehud Meron, a physicist at Ben-Gurion University, and Isla Meyers-Smith, an ecologist at the University of British Columbia.
In the Human Interventions PhD project at Leiden University, you will study the impact of human activities on the resilience of an ecosystem. Existing theories are developed in the context of idealised domains: sufficiently large regions in which environmental conditions do not change. In a realistic setting, the region may be too small to enable the system to evade tipping. Strong localised effects by human interventions, such as local logging, or ‘slash and burn’ agricultural land use, may also significantly reduce the flexibility and thus resilience of a patterned system. On the other hand, tailored localised perturbations may increase the resilience of the system to droughts by directing it to stable patterns rather than to bare soil. In this project, you will embed the study of spatial patterns in complex systems and ecosystems and their impact on its resilience in an analysis of the impact of spatial restrictions of the domain and the effects of local and global, human induced effects. The approach will be a combination of computational, analytical and modelling studies. The intended goal will include measures directed towards ecosystem restoration, evading and even reversing critical transitions.