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October 30, 2014
 
 
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Laurier - Northwest Territories Partnership

Two postdoctoral positions for permafrost-impacted plant community structure and dynamics

Sep 17/12

There are two postdoctoral positions available as part of an ongoing partnership between Wilfrid Laurier University and the Government of the Northwest Territories (/research/LaurierNWT).

We are rapidly expanding our integrative research program to better understand coupled ecological and hydrological responses of permafrost-impacted systems to warming. Our region of focus is the Taiga Plains Ecoregion, which spans the length of the Mackenzie River Valley in the Northwest Territories, Canada. This Ecoregion covers a wide latitudinal range and therefore a wide range of permafrost conditions (see map), including boreal, taiga and tundra systems.

Map_two_post_doc_positions_September_2012.jpg

Details of each position follow.

1) DYNAMIC VEGETATION MODEL DEVELOPMENT FOR PERMAFROST-IMPACTED PLANT COMMUNITIES.


The successful candidate will work closely with both University and Government (Territorial, Provincial and Federal) research scientists whose interests span this region. Substantial effort has been invested in a range of sites across the Ecoregion to model hydrological function and changes in response to permafrost thaw. Such predictive tools will provide key information for the Government of the NWT’s Water Management Strategy implementation. However, changing conditions in the NWT due to warming climate have dramatic implications for plant community structure, function and composition and incorporation of such changes into current hydrological models is critical. The successful candidate will initiate development and testing of a dynamic vegetation model selected in consultation with other hydrological modelers and ecologists in the group, and begin the linking of such models with our hydrological models.

Required skills: A PhD in ecology, environmental science, earth systems science, hydrology, or closely related field. Applicants should be proficient in a major computer modeling language and should have demonstrated ability to publish high quality peer-reviewed papers. A good understanding of plant physiological ecology and/or ecosystem ecology would be advantageous.

Strong candidates will be encouraged to apply for NSERC and Garfield Weston Postdoctoral Fellowships and outstanding candidates will be nominated for a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.

2) ECOSYSTEM CHANGE ACROSS THE TAIGA PLAINS ECOREGION.

The successful candidate will work closely with both University and Government (Territorial, Provincial and Federal) research scientists whose interests span this region. Global warming is occurring at unprecedented rates in Northwestern Canada with annual average temperatures increasing as much as 3°C over the last 50 years. The Taiga Plains Ecoregion extends across the entire permafrost gradient from sporadic to deep, continuous permafrost and as such can be expected to be very sensitive to such dramatic warming. We require a postdoctoral fellow to investigate regional patterns of plant community structure and composition across this gradient as a function of a range of abiotic and disturbance conditions and assess rates of ecosystem change using archival datasets and/or dendrochronological tools. 


Although there is some flexibility in the trajectory of this position, responsibilities could include:
(1) Compilation of historic datasets to help establish baseline conditions across the region; (2) Analysis and synthesis of data arising from an extensive network of permanent sample plots and collaboration with remote sensing researchers to link ground-based datasets with existing LiDAR datasets and other remote sensing datasets available for the sites; and (3) Establishment of complementary field studies at site(s) along the Taiga Plains including potential involvement in the Taiga Plains Megaplot network that forms the boreal component of the Smithsonian’s Global Earth Observatory plot network.

Required skills: A PhD in ecology, environmental science, earth systems science, or closely related field. Required skills may include proficiency in spatial statistics, working knowledge of ArcGIS or another comparable GIS platform, and/or experience sampling and analyzing dendrochronological datasets. Candidates will have demonstrated ability to publish high quality peer-reviewed papers.

Strong candidates will be encouraged to apply for NSERC and Garfield Weston Postdoctoral Fellowships and outstanding candidates will be nominated for a Banting Fellowship.

Contacts:
Dr. Jennifer Baltzer
Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Forests and Global Change
Wilfrid Laurier University
Email: jbaltzer@wlu.ca

Dr. William Quinton
Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Hydrology
Wilfrid Laurier University
Email: wquinton@wlu.ca

Dr. Philip Marsh
Project Lead, Northern Hydrology Section
Environment Canada
National Hydrology Research Centre

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