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Idp bridges esr4_job_description

Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center

Zurich–Basel Plant Science Center
ETH Zürich, LFW B 51
Universitätstrasse 2
8092 Zurich
Job Description IDP BRIDGES
ESR4: Seasonal effects of drought on the productivity and fodder quality of temperate
grassland species

PhD position in Plant Ecophysiology
The objective of this project is to test how drought events occurring at different times of
the growing season will affect the ecology, biogeochemistry and fodder quality of European
grasslands. In a large experiment in the vicinity of Zurich, drought events will be simulated on
temperate grasslands at different times of the year using specifically designed rainout shelters. The
experiment will help to understand how anticipated changes in precipitation will affect ecosystem
goods and services in key European agroecosystems. It is embedded in the context of climate
change and sustainable management of agroecosystems.
Job Description:
Climate models predict an increasing number of drought events for Europe in the future. Previous
studies have shown reduced biomass production in grasslands as response to drought. It is, however,
still unclear if droughts occurring at different times during the growing season differ in their effects on
grassland communities. Given that grassland species have a distinct phenology, we hypothesize that
their physiology, growth and regrowth will respond differently to drought events occurring at different
times during the year and thus different effects on fodder production and quality.
To test this hypothesis, a large-scale drought experiment will be established in temperate Swiss
grasslands that contain species with distinct phenological characteristics. It is the overall goal of the
project to (i) understand the interacting effects of seasonal drought events and species phenological
stages on fodder production and fodder quality in Swiss grasslands, and (ii) to develop adapted
management strategies for grasslands in the face of increased drought events and disseminate these
strategies directly to stakeholders (farmers, extension services, agricultural schools, seed industry,
The project will be situated in the Sustainable Landuse Group at the University of Basel (Prof.
Kahmen) and will closely collaborate with the Grassland Sciences at ETH Zurich (Prof. Buchmann)
and the Grassland group at Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ART (Prof. Lüscher).
The work will include a secondment at the Agricultural Research Station ART Reckenholz, Zurich.
For the project we are looking for a dynamic, reliable and motivated PhD student with M.Sc./Diploma
in plant ecophysiology, ecology, agricultural sciences, environmental sciences or related disciplines.
Experiences and skills in working with field experiments, ecophysiological measurements as well as
statistical skills for data analysis are highly beneficial. Driving license is required. Teamwork within
group and with project partners requires English and German language skills. For further information
please contact Prof. Kahmen (
Main Research Field
Agricultural Sciences, Plant Ecology Sub Research Field
This project is part of the Fellowship Program ‘Bridging Plant Science and Policy’ (IDP BRIDGES) and thus the fellow will be registered to the structured PhD Program Science and Policy ( For application details and online application:


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