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PhD student in Modelling, management, and resilience of future Alpine forest landscapes


The Free University of Bozen-Bolzano in cooperation with EURAC invites applications for a PhD position in Modelling, management, and resilience of future Alpine forest landscapes in the frame of the PhD Programme in Mountain Environment and Agriculture. The PhD project is embedded in the REINFORCE project (Integrated landscape management for resilient mountain forests under global changes; H2020 MSCA-IF, GA 891671).

The PhD project focuses on landscape-scale dynamic vegetation modelling in a case study region in the Eastern Alps, Italy. The goal of the project is threefold: 1) initialize, calibrate, and further develop a landscape model to simulate forest dynamics under climate change; 2) assess adaptive and integrated management strategies to cope with global change stressors, such as climatic disturbances and land use change; 3) evaluate socio-ecological resilience of management options in relation to stakeholder's acceptance and future provision of ecosystem services. The project has a strong link between ecology and natural resource management in mountain environment and contributes to facilitate a transfer of knowledge between science and local decision makers in relation to the forest in global change. The PhD student will be targeting one specific case study landscape within the project. The study landscape will be in the southern portion of South Tyrol (e.g., Eggental) or Trentino region (Val di Fiemme).



  • Ecological modelling: use available data (field inventory, forest maps, satellite, Lidar if available, original collected data from sampling plots) to initialize and calibrate the iLand model to simulate landscape forest dynamics under climate change. This chapter will pave the way for follow up applications of spatially explicit forest landscape models in the southern Alps.
  • Forest management and global change: application of the landscape model to explore adaptive management and interactions with climate change and disturbances. This chapter would have a stronger silvicultural focus, allowing the student to put into practice what learnt from chapter one. It could also include the further development of iLand and/or its submodules (e.g., simulation of unexpected biotic disturbances), calibration of additional species (e.g., beech, oak forests) or integration with other stand-level models already calibrated for Alpine forests (ForClim, 3PG). Management scenarios will be developed within REINFORCE and compared with applications to the two other regions.
  • Socio-ecological resilience and ecosystem services: expand the concept of forest resilience to socio-economic aspects. Evaluate feasibility of adaptive management in relation to stakeholder's acceptance and future provision of ecosystem services. For this it will be necessary to identify socio-economic constraints for the implementation of adaptive management through an analysis of social acceptance and governance issues within the target landscape. The student would take full advantage of expertise and previous projects by EURAC research in the field of ecosystem services in the Alps, downscaling the analysis for the target region.
  • Presenting research results in national- and international-level academic conferences.
  • Publishing in international peer-reviewed journals.
  • Applying for national and international research grants.



  • MSc degree in Forest Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Ecology, Forestry, Landscape Ecology, Ecosystem Modelling, or a related field.
  • Good knowledge of the ecology, management, and silviculture of European forests.
  • Knowledge of the R software, familiarity with computer programming and dynamic modeling techniques is an asset.
  • Familiarity with concepts of ecosystem services and socio-ecological research is an asset.
  • At least basic knowledge in statistics.
  • Motivated to work interdisciplinarily, independently but also with a high level of team spirit.
  • Excellent English communication skills (spoken and written). Good command of German and Italian is an advantage.


We offer:

  • PhD position for 3 years at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
  • Working in a research team of representatives from the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano and Eurac research
  • Dedicated workspace
  • Flexible working hours
  • Opportunities for career development through in-house transferrable skills courses
  • A supportive PhD student community
  • Attractive living conditions in the middle of the Alps


How to apply:

Further information, including how to apply for this PhD position, is available at:     https://www.unibz.it/en/faculties/sciencetechnology/phd-mountain-environment-agriculture/

Only applications submitted to the university will be considered. The post holder will be selected through the regular university procedure for selecting PhD students. When applying, do not forget to select the topic "Modelling, management, and resilience of future Alpine forest landscapes" (n. 18, curriculum 2, in the list of project proposals).


Deadline for applications to the university: 30 June 2021


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Please add the following consent if it is of interest to you: "I hereby explicitly authorize Eurac Research to store my personal data for the purpose of being contacted for potential future job openings".


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