Post-Doctoral Research Position

Characterization of soil respiration across an agricultural landscape

The position will be based at the INRA, Soil Agro-hydrosystems and Spatialization (SAS) research station, Rennes, France, within a multidisciplinary team including soil and atmospheric scientists, hydrologists and agronomists, involved in national and international research projects on soil and water quality, carbon cycling, nitrogen and greenhouse gas emissions. The position is for 18 months starting January 1st, 2014, with a monthly gross salary of 2300 EUR/month, including contributions to the public French pension scheme.

We are seeking a highly motivated post-doctoral scientist to work on the measurement and the modelling of soil respiration at the scale of a small agricultural catchment in temperate oceanic N-W France, as part of the MOSAIC project (Landscape approach of soil organic matter dynamics in intensive mixed agrosystems, in the context of global change). The work will seek to characterize the variability in soil respiration rates across the various land uses, cropping systems and soil types, as well as along hydrological transects and gradients of soil within the catchment. These data will contribute to the development and parameterization of an empirical soil respiration model, with a special emphasis on situations with frequent water-logging, and with the ultimate objective of scaling up to the whole catchment.

Job description

The release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the respiration of soil organic matter is a major flux in the global carbon cycle, while soil organic matter is a key control of the resilience and sustainability of agro-ecosystems, affecting ecosystem productivity as well as diverse environmental functions of soils. The landscape is a relevant scale to study the interactions between the anthropogenic and natural factors controlling the dynamics of soil organic matter and the fluxes of nutrients involved therein.

The work will involve frequent trips to the measurement site, the field deployment of a portable soil respiration static chamber system (LiCor-8100) for in-situ measurements, as well as the set-up and management of a laboratory-based soil incubation programm, to study the impacts of water saturation and drying on mineralisation and soil respiration in controlled conditions.

Job requirements

Applicants should have a background – and hold a recently completed PhD – in environmental science, soil science, atmospheric science, biogeochemistry, carbon and nitrogen cycling, and terrestrial ecosystem modelling. A willingness to undertake field measurements in all seasons and a dedication to maintaining high standards of data acquisition and quality control, as part of long-term field observations and manipulation experiments, are essential. Previous work experience involving flux measurements in the field within international carbon flux monitoring programmes would be an asset, as well as the demonstrated ability to interact with experimentalists and modellers and an interest in improving current numerical carbon models through observation-based process understanding.

A valid driving license, as well as fluency in either English or French, are required.

Application procedure

Applicants should send a CV, application letter and examples of their research output (publications list and/or PhD thesis) to Dr Valérie Viaud (valerie.viaud@rennes.inra.fr). Applicants should also arrange for two reference letters to be sent directly to Dr Valérie Viaud.

The application deadline is November 25th, 2013.