CareersJob opportunities PhD student in Alpine Plant Ecology - Ecophysiology

PhD student in Alpine Plant Ecology - Ecophysiology

The EURAC-Institute for Alpine Environment invites applications for a three-year early-stage researcher (PhD) position in Alpine Plant Ecology - Ecophysiology. The successful candidate will join the UPSHIFT project (Effects of air pressure on upwards shifting alpine ecosystems; “Joint Projects” Austria – South Tyrol/Alto Adige).

Climate change is altering the elevation range limits of many organisms, often driving upward range shifts. In this context, reduced air pressure poses a potentially novel environmental problem for upwards migrating organisms to solve if they are to persist at high elevation as climate change continues. The goal of the project is threefold: 1) to understand how upwards migrating soil microorganisms and plant species react to lower air pressure; 2) to assess how upwards migrating soil microorganisms and plants perform with resident plants and soil microorganisms that have persisted in place under lower pressure; 3) to evaluate the effect of lower air pressure on the ecosystem water balance. The project integrates a unique extreme environment simulator (terraXcube, to simulate different alpine climate conditions, pot and mesocosm (lysimeter) experiments to disentangle the effects, and field observations from the LTER site in Matsch/Mazia ( to validate the reliability of the obtained results.

The position focuses on understanding the mechanism underlying plant responses to lower air pressure and new biotic associations in alpine grasslands.

The candidate will be enrolled to a PhD programme (to be defined) and integrated in a team of researchers at the Institute of Alpine Environment at EURAC Research and at the Department of Microbiology - University of Innsbruck


  • Organize and conduct the experiments at the terraXcube.
  • Monitoring of environmental conditions within the climate chambers.
  • Assessment of plant functional traits.
  • Assessment of ecosystem functions.
  • Data analysis.
  • Writing and publishing scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Presenting results at national and international conferences.


  • MSc degree in Biology, Ecology, Botany, or related areas.
  • Solid knowledge in plant ecology (preferentially ecophysiology or functional ecology) is required.
  • Experience in one or more of the following areas is expected: experimental field and laboratory studies, plant physiology (photosynthetic activity, respiration, or evapotranspiration), biotic interactions, measuring functional traits, use of lab instruments (leaf porometer, chlorophyll meter).
  • Good statistical and analytical skills (preferentially sound knowledge in R).
  • Excellent English, both written and spoken.
  • Good command of German and/or Italian is an advantage.
  • Good planning and organization skills.
  • Good communication, with a strong aptitude for scientific writing, and teamwork skills.
  • The ability to work independently.
  • A strong interest in interdisciplinary research and the willingness to engage in scientific exchange with other disciplines are essential for applicants.

We offer:

  • A full-time position (40h/week) for three years starting from January 2022 to December 2024.
  • Participation in a strongly interdisciplinary research project, combined with the opportunity for research on an innovative experimental facility (terraXcube).
  • A family-friendly working environment.

How to apply:

Interested candidates should submit their application (CV, cover letter and further relevant documents) by 31.08.2021 to the following address:

Eurac Research Institute for Alpine Environment Viale Druso 1 – 39100 Bolzano Email:
Tel: +39 0471 055 333 / Fax: + 39 0471 055 399 *

For further information please contact Matteo Dainese: Tel: +39 0471 055 341 Email:

“Joint Projects” Austria – South Tyrol/Alto Adige: UPSHIFT (CUP D55F20002260003)

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Eurac Research is a private research center based in Bolzano (South Tyrol) with researchers from a wide variety of scientific fields who come from all over the globe. Together, through scientific knowledge and research, they share the goal of shaping the future.

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Our research addresses the greatest challenges facing us in the future: people need health, energy, well-functioning political and social systems and an intact environment. These are complex questions, and we are seeking the answers in the interaction between many different disciplines. In so doing, our research work embraces three major themes: regions fit for living in, diversity as a life-enhancing feature, a healthy society.

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