PhD position, Forest regeneration and belowground competition between trees and seedlings

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
March 31, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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Department of Forest Ecology and Management

The advertised position is based in Umeå, Sweden, at the Department of forest ecology and management (Swedish university of agricultural sciencees).

The department includes about 100 people of which 11 are professors. Our mission is to advance the understanding of forest ecosystem processes and to progress the principles of forest ecosystem management. For more information: https:// www.

Project title: Forest regeneration and belowground competition between trees and seedlings

Research subject: Biology Description:

Interest in alternatives to clearcut rotational forest management is growing. But transitioning to various continuous cover forestry systems or closer to nature forestry requires that adequate forest regeneration can be secured without clearcuts and possibly also without conventional site preparation measures. However, it is common to find very poor seedling growth and several near overstory trees – especially (but not exclusively) in northern pine forests. It has been shown for multiple tree species that shading by overstory canopies cannot fully explain this poor growth, leading to consideration of belowground limitations and competition with larger trees. The current project will use stable isotope labelling techniques to investigate the role of competition for nitrogen. Specifically, the project will test a hypothesis that competition within ectomycorrhizal networks aggravates the situation for small seedlings near large trees. A series of new large-scale field experiments will be established in the initial phase of the project, and the PhD student will be integral to managing them, and will be the main author on scientific publications of results from them.

The goals of the current project is 1) to test the role of belowground competition via mycorrhizal fungi on seedling establishment, 2) identify where the competition effects are the most severe, and 3) to provide a mechanistic understanding of how and where forest regeneration is hampered by nearby trees. This is crucial if alternatives to current forest management practices are to be developed.

The announced PhD position is fully funded for four years, with the expectation that the student will defend their doctoral thesis at the end of this time period. The successful applicant will work under the supervision of Nils Henriksson, professor Torgny Näsholm, and associate professor Sandra Jämtgård at the department of forest ecology and management (Swedish university of agricultural sciences, Umeå, Sweden). The PhD student will belong to a research group with broad expertise ranging from plant physiology and nutrition to forest ecophysiology, which will provide both support and opportunities for scientific discussion and exchange. The group has well established expertise in using stable isotope techniques for studying ecophysiological processes in field, greenhouse, and lab environments.

Applications from Sweden and from abroad are welcome.


Basic requirements

  • MSc degree in a relevant subject area (biology, ecology, forest science, ecophysiology etc.)
  • Good English communication skills (written and spoken)
  • Basic knowledge of statistical software (such as R or JMP) is an advantage
  • Strong work ethic
  • Meritous

  • Experience with scientific field studies is an advantage, but not required
  • Experience with independent work and organizing your own work schedule
  • Comfortable working with others
  • Place of work:


    Forms for funding or employment:

    Employment as PhD student, full time for 4 years

    Starting date:

    Spring/Summer of 2023


    Click the “Apply” button to submit your application. The deadline is March 31 2023

    Applications should be written in English, and include the following:

  • CV
  • A cover letter, introducing yourself snd your reason for applying for the position
  • Short (max 1 page) description of your scientific background, research interests, and how you fulfill the qualifications listed above.
  • Copies of degree certificates (or corresponding documents), and other relevant documents and certificates (such as English scores, for instance)
  • Names and contact info for two professional references.
  • To qualify for third-cycle (Doctoral) courses and study programmes, you must have a second-cycle (Master's) qualification. Alternatively, you must have conducted a minimum of four years of full-time study, of which a minimum of one year at second-cycle level.

    Applicants will be selected based on their written application and CV, degree project, copies of their degree certificate and transcript of records from previous first and second-cycle studies at a university or higher education institution, two personal references, and knowledge of English. More information about the English language requirements can be found here:

    Please note that applicants invited to interview must submit attested copies of their degree certificate, a transcript of records from previous first and second-cycle studies at a university or higher education institution. Applicants who are not Swedish citizens need to submit an attested copy of their passport's information page containing their photograph and personal details.

    Read about the PhD education at SLU at www. courses/doctoral-studies/

    Academic union representatives:

    The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) is a world-class international university with research, education and environmental assessment within the sciences for sustainable life. Its principal sites are in Alnarp, Umeå and Uppsala, but activities are also conducted at research stations, experimental parks and educational establishments throughout Sweden. We bring together people who have different perspectives, but they all have one and the same goal: to create the best conditions for a sustainable, thriving and better world.

    SLU has just over 3,000 employees, 5,000 students and a turnover of SEK 3 billion. The university has invested heavily in a modern, attractive environment on its campuses.


    Contact person

    Nils Henriksson

    [email protected]

    [email protected]

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