Research Fellow: Modelling Amazonian Tree Mortality


Salary: £31,656 to £37,768 per annum
Due to funding restrictions appointments cannot be made higher than spine point 33 (£34,576 p.a.)

Fixed term for 36 months, starting in October 2016

Mortality rates of Amazonian forest trees have risen markedly over recent decades, with potentially profound implications for the South American and global carbon cycles.  However, the mechanistic basis of increasing tree mortality patterns is poorly resolved, limiting our ability to make informed projections of the impacts of global environmental change on tropical forests. 

We are seeking a Researcher to work on the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded TREMOR (Mechanisms and consequences of increasing TREe MORtality in Amazonian rainforests) project to 1) evaluate the importance of different drivers in contributing to observations of increased Amazonian tree mortality and 2) improve the representation of Amazonian tree mortality processes in vegetation models. 

Your work will involve both data analysis and modelling components. The data analysis component will focus on using long-term Amazonian forest plot data, spanning over 30 years of tree dynamics, to evaluate evidence supporting a number of potential mechanisms behind the observed increases in tree mortality, including the role of drought, lianas and storm damage.  The modelling component will focus on improving the representation of tree mortality processes in an individual-based forest model; trait-based forest simulator (TFS), specifically developed for the simulation of Amazonian forest plots.  There will also be scope for using dynamic global vegetation models to evaluate the large-scale impacts of increasing tree mortality on Amazonian forest carbon storage.

You will hold a PhD in a relevant discipline (e.g. ecology, biology, mathematics) by the start of the appointment/project and have excellent quantitative skills with an interest in important ecological and climate change questions. You should have previous vegetation modelling experience, preferably in the simulation of forest demographic processes. You should also be competent with scientific programming (preferably Java) and have previous experience with analysing large ecological datasets. You will have a strong interest in tropical forest ecology and biogeochemistry.
You will be based in the Ecology and Global Change (EGC) research cluster in the School of Geography, University of Leeds.  EGC has a long history of high-impact work in tropical ecosystems and you will join a multidisciplinary team of researchers interested in better understanding the dynamics of tropical forest ecosystems and their sensitivity to environmental change processes.  You will work directly with Dr. David Galbraith, Prof. Emanuel Gloor, Prof. Oliver Phillips and Dr. Roel Brienen.

The University of Leeds’ commitment to women in science has been recognised with a national accolade. The University has received the Athena SWAN Bronze Award and the Faculty of Environment holds the Athena SWAN Bronze Award in recognition of our success in recruiting, retaining and developing/promoting women in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET). We are proud of our commitment to equality and inclusiveness.
The University also offers family friendly policies including generous maternity and paternity leave; full details of the policies can be found here

General enquiries may be made to the Geography HR team email, tel +44 (0)113 343 0203

Specific role related enquiries may be made to Dr. David Galbraith, tel +44 (0)113 343 2730, email

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