The University of California's newly founded Institute for the Study of Ecological Effects of Climate Impacts (ISEECI) invites applications for a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ecology and Evolution, broadly defined to include ecology, comparative biology, population genetics, and/or evolution. The successful candidate will conduct observational, experimental and/or modeling research to address questions that leverage the unique opportunities provided by the widely distributed, taxonomically diverse, and ecologically protected sites of the University of California Natural Reserve System. The goals of this research are to detect and to characterize the process and outcome of population and species' responses to climatic conditions and to forecast future ecological and evolutionary changes that will occur as climate change proceeds. Identifying regions or taxa that are particularly vulnerable to climatic changes that threaten their persistence is of particular concern both to individual NRS sites and regionally.
Individual traits (e.g., physiological rates, germination requirements, sexually selected characters, age at maturity, phenology, lifespan, defenses), population-level traits (e.g. mating system, modes of reproduction, population densities, polymorphisms, reproductive events/year) and species’ attributes (e.g. geographic range, population differentiation, detection of clines) are all of strong interest. Demographic, physiological, quantitative genetic, phylogenetic and molecular genetic methods may be used alone or in concert to achieve these goals.
Examples of questions that might be addressed by the successful candidate include:
Candidates may propose original research (in collaboration with an ISEECI faculty member) that addresses fundamental questions concerning the ecological and evolutionary responses of wild or naturalized species to contemporary climatic conditions or to future climate. Alternatively, they may work with faculty on ongoing or prospective projects (see below).
Preference will be given to candidates whose research will contribute to the development of products (e.g., publications, data sets, maps, on-line tools, living collections of preserved material, apps, and trained citizen scientists) that will be widely available to the academic community and the public in the near future. We specifically favor projects that characterize contemporary species/communities over a geographical area so that they can be used in the future as a frame of reference for how species/communities are changing over time. We also encourage proposals that make use of existing data bases that provide a frame of reference for what organisms/communities were like in the past (e.g., the Grinnell Project). Applications must include a cover letter, CV, and a brief description of planned research and products.
The position is for one year, renewable for a second year subject to review after one year. ISEECI postdocs may choose from ISEECI faculty mentors and collaborative groups in ecology, evolution, geography, and genetics at any UC campus. Candidates must contact appropriate faculty sponsors before applying and include a letter of support from the proposed sponsor as part of the application.
Applications must include a CV, a cover letter briefly describing the candidate's research interests, intended mentor and the names and contact information of three references. Potential mentors and their research interests are listed at http://nrs.ucop.edu/research/iseeci/pd-popecoevo.htm Applicants should contact prospective faculty mentors, and the mentor should submit a separate letter of support.
Email application materials may be submitted to Becca Fenwick (firstname.lastname@example.org). Applications will be reviewed beginning on October 1, 2015, with the appointment beginning as early as November 1, 2015.
Salary is commensurate with experience. The position includes a research budget for equipment, supplies and travel among UC campuses and reserves. The University of California is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and is supportive of dual career couples.
Examples of ongoing multi-reserve research projects that offer opportunities for faculty sponsorship and collaboration:
Contact prospective sponsors below should you wish to conduct research related to, or in collaboration with, these investigators.
Establishment and use of a UCNRS seed bank - The NRS offers a special opportunity to sample and to archive a taxonomically and genetically diverse living collection of plants to address questions concerning population differentiation, modes of selection, and adaptation to abiotic and biotic stresses associated with climatic variation. This project leverages ongoing collection of a genetically diverse seed bank of >50 wild and naturalized species using the Project Baseline protocols. The postdoctoral researcher would combine seed collection and preservation - employing and training NRS docents and volunteers for this effort - with observational, common garden, and experimental research on a widespread taxon of their choice in collaboration with a UC faculty member. For more information, contact: Susan Mazer orPeggy Fiedler
Geographic variation as a proxy for climate change: tracking phenological responses to climatic variation across environmental gradients - Phenological responses to local climatic conditions have been well studied in temperate communities, but little is known about how plants (and different phenophases: bud break, flowering, fruiting) respond to local and recent seasonal conditions in arid, water-driven systems. This research will evaluate the quantitative relationships among phenological and climatic parameters of keystone woody species (e.g., in the genera Quercus, Arctostaphylos, Adenostoma, Salvia, Ceanothus, and Eriogonum) across coastal-inland and elevation gradients in the UC reserves, with the goal of projecting population-, species- and community-level changes in a hotter, drier, and/or less predictable future. For more information, contact: Susan Mazer
Are changing microclimates driving shifts in tree species distributions in California? — This project leverages ongoing microclimate research coupled to seedling establishment trials in foothill and montane landscapes of the southern Sierra Nevada and Tehachapi Mountains. The postdoctoral researcher will join a large multidisciplinary team to integrate the ongoing project with the broader network of NRS site studies, including 1) harmonizing a large amount of project geospatial climate and other environmental data with NRS data for cross-network data exchange and analysis, 2) extending current field data collection beyond the project's current 2016 end date, 3) adding field measurements of seedling physiology (pre-dawn XPP, chlorophyll fluorescence and/or leaf gas exchange), and 4) analyzing existing data to improve understanding of tree species vulnerability to climate change across the NRS system. For more information, contact: Frank Davis
Effects of hydroclimatic change on stream quality and community/ecosystem structure and function — As the hydrology of mountain streams is altered with climate change, understanding of ecological consequences can be tracked with years of legacy data on stream invertebrate communities from Sagehen Creek and Convict Creek — east slope Sierra streams at the Sagehen Research Station and Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab of the NRS. Summarizing years of survey data and adding current information can be used to assess climate drivers of change. In addition, preserved algae collected from a Sierra stream climate detection network can be used to establish short-term responses over five years of flow variation including severe drought conditions. For more information, contact: David Herbst,
Evolutionary potential for shifts in phenology in response to climate change and invasion — Shifts in seasonal timing (phenology) are a mechanism by which species can acclimate or evolve in response to a changing environment. For instance, shifting phenology may allow species to track changes in the growing season associated with climate change, or avoid competition with newly invading species with defined seasonality. The timing of germination is an important aspect of plant phenology, determining the biotic and abiotic environment for newly emerged individuals. Hence germination timing is a trait that may vary among populations depending on both environmental and biotic context. There are several species that are common across many NRS reserves, and seed collections across these reserves could represent an important resource for evaluating the existing potential for evolution of phenological traits (such as germination time) across wide environmental gradients. An ISEECI postdoctoral researcher could facilitate the establishment of these seed collections (an important resource for long-term collaborative research), while also producing research publications based on short-term experiments. For more information, contact: Elsa Cleland
Community consequences of plant adaptation to environmental gradients and implications for climate change — This project documents contemporary patterns of genetically based variation in plant functional traits and arthropod communities in Artemisia californica distributed along the steep environmental cline defining the species distribution along the Californian Pacific coast. This will be achieved by sampling wild grown plants in situ (both on and off NRS sites), as well as within NRS sites hosting common gardens across the species range, and within the context of both precipitation and herbivore manipulations. In the near term, these data willprovide a detailed understanding of how biotic and abiotic environmental clines drive variation in plant functional traits, and thus allow inference for this foundational plant species and its associated arthropod community will respond to ongoing and future climate change. For more information, contact: Kailen Mooney
The NRS as a window into the future: from genes to phenotypes — The NRS provides an ideal system with which to establish a biodiversity baseline. While the matrix will continue to change, the NRS sites are likely to remain as they are with respect to direct anthropogenic disturbance. Hence, they will serve as excellent sites to monitor environmental change (e.g., climate) over time and space. A postdoctoral researcher is sought to make new collections of vertebrates or invertebrates, sampling specimens and tissues to facilitate DNA as well as RNA extraction. These specimens and tissues could be used (1) in conjunction with those housed in UC Natural History Museums to determine cryptic biodiversity (metagenomics) and integrate these variables with macroecological theory, (2) to examine how phenotypes and genotypes have changed over time, or (3) to establish a baseline of gene expression in select taxa across the state, that would serve as a early indicator of functional shifts under environmental change. For more information, contact: Rauri Bowie
Jessica Blois, School of Natural Sciences, UC Merced
Rauri Bowie, Faculty Curator of Birds in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, and the Faculty Director of the Central Sierra Field Research Stations, UC Berkeley.
Elsa Cleland, Ecology, Behavior, Evolution, UC San Diego.
Frank Davis Director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS, www.nceas.ucsb.edu) and Professor of Landscape Ecology and Conservation Planning at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management (www.bren.ucsb.edu), University of California, Santa Barbara.
Jennifer Gremer, Evolution and Ecology, UC Davis.
David Herbst, Marine Science Institute, UC Santa Barabara
Andrew Latimer, Dept. of Plant Sciences, UC Davis
Susan Mazer, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Barbara.
Kailen Mooney, Center of Environmental Biology, UC Irvine.
Eric P. Palkovacs, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz.
David Reznick, Department of Biology, UC Riverside.
Sharon Strauss, Dept. of Eocology and Evolution UC Davis
Jon Christensen, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES) and Department of History, and Peter Kareiva, IoES and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA
Peter Kareiva is director of the IoES, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and author of Conservation Science: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature, among many other works.
Maggi Kelly, Dept. Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley
Laurel Fox, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz.