Postdoctoral position in Irstea Aix-en-Provence, FRANCE
Resistance, resilience and succession of biofilm and macroinvertebrate communities in
response to natural and experimental floods

Contacts: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

Closing date for application: 1st October 2017.

Start date: January 2018. Duration: 12 months. Salary: ~ 2000 Euros per month.

Large-scale flow experiments are becoming more common as an increasing focus on improving aquatic habitat quality and regulatory pressures incite dam operators to partially restore natural flow regimes. Flooding disturbance, whether natural or artificial (experimental floods) directly influence populations and communities, and in particular properties such as resistance and resilience. Mediterranean river flow regimes are highly seasonal and are characterized by high inter-annual variability in flooding and droughts. Species populations and community assemblages have evolved in these ecosystems and should demonstrate high resistance and resilience to any given disturbance. In the Mediterranean-climate region of south-eastern France, the Durance River has an altered flow regime (8 hydropower dams). Experimental floods (clear water releases from the dam) are being tested as a tool to improve lotic habitat and ecosystem function.

In collaboration with EDF, over a four year period, high frequency benthic sampling (biofilm, invertebrates) of riffles was conducted at 3 sites following large natural floods (2014), before/after experimental floods (2016-2017) and in a non-flood year (2015).

Flow conditions (in particular flow variability), influence both biofilm and invertebrate communities and mediate their biotic interactions (e.g. grazing, habitat quality) and ultimately ecosystem functioning. The objective of this project is therefore to understand the effects of flood disturbances of differing magnitude (natural and artificial) on the role of biofilm composition and biomass on invertebrate resistance and resilience to floods. The candidate will analyze the data from this unique experimental study, using tools and methods from community and trophic ecology, adopting both structural and functional approaches. Data on invertebrate preferences for various phytobenthic taxa will be used to develop and test hypotheses about the influence of resource availability and consumer presence and density. The implications of these variations for stream food webs and their responses to disturbance will be examined.

In collaboration with scientists of Irstea and EDF, the successful applicant will carry out the statistical analyses required to analyze the dataset already compiled and write the subsequent publication(s). It is expected that the successful applicant will consult experts in the different taxonomic groups as necessary. French fluency is appreciated, but not required. A Ph.D in aquatic ecology is required at the time of appointment, preferably with experience in macroinvertebrates. Applicants must have a solid background in ecology, outstanding skills in the organization, exploration and statistical analysis of datasets, and in written and verbal communication. Applicants must enjoy working in multidisciplinary teams.

To apply, please send by email a cover letter stating your research accomplishments and interests, curriculum vitae and representative publications to the 3 contacts.