DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL AND PLANT SCIENCES
UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD
POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATE IN RAINFOREST ECOPHYSIOLOGY
Applications are invited for the above post to work with Dr Malcolm
Press and Dr Julie Scholes on a three year project to study the
response of rain forest tree seedlings to light and nutrients.
Applications in the form of a CV with two referees should be sent to
the Director of Human Resource Management, The University of
Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN.
Salary will be in the range stlg14,317 - stlg15,986 per annum
Closing date for applications 20 June 1996 (Ref R915)
Responses of dipterocarp rain forest tree seedlings to high light: a
role for nitrogen?
Dipterocarps dominate both the lowland tropical rainforests of S.E.
Asia, where they can account for up tp 80% of the canpoy trees, and
also the international hardwood timber trade. Thus they are
important both ecologically and commercially. Dipterocarps produce
seeds with little or no dormancy, and it is the seedling stage of the
lifecycle which can survive for long periods of time, often many
years, on the rain forest floor, where levels of light are very low.
The growth of these seedlings is stimulated by the creation of gaps
in the canopy, either resulting from tree falls or logging, which can
result in up to a 25 times increase in light. Tropical rainforests
are biologically diverse, and large numbers of dipterocarp species
co-exist. Species- specific responses to light by the seedlings may
be critical in determining the success of individuals, since many are
damaged by high levels of light. This project will examine how three
contrasting dipterocarp species, which differ in their degree of
shade tolerance and their ability to tolerate large and sudden
increases in light, respond to gap creation, at a physiological and
biochemical level. Specifically we will determine differences in the
ways in which light energy is either used or dissipated by seedlings.
Nitrogen is an important component of the photosynthetic apparatus
responsible for these processes, and we will determine the extent to
which the supply of this element may enhance the ability of the
seedlings to protect themselves against high levels of light. By
performing experiments at a forest site in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo
(Danum Valley Field Centre) and in contrlled environment conditions
in Sheffield this project will yield important information about the
mechanistic basis of species-specific responses to light by
dipterocarp seedlings and the role of nitrogen in determining these
responses. This information will be valuable both with respect to
understanding how light controls regeneration in gaps in the forest
and also for the management of tropical forests.
The successful candidate will spend time both in Sheffield and in
Borneo. Although the precise time to be spent in each location is
flexible, we envisage that it will be approximately 2-4 months in the
field (probably 2 visits), with remaining time in Sheffield.
The project involves studies of plant ecophysiology and biochemistry.
Our initial preference is for somebody with a more biochemical
background, however candidates with a background in ecophysiology
should not be put off from applying.
Experience in SOME of the following techniques would be
Gas exchange (IRGA and oxygen electrode)
Chlorophyll fluorescence measurements
Pigment analysis (use of an HPLC)
The successful applicant will join a lively group studying plant
ecophysiology and biochemistry, and will be expected to work closely
with two Ph.D students working on the environmental physiology of
dipterocarps, and using the same field sites. The field station in
Sabah is comfortable and well equiped and previous experience of the
tropic (although desirable) is not a pre-requisite.