Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL is part of the ETH Domain. Approximately 600 people work on the sustainable use and protection of the environment and on the handling of natural hazards.

The ETH Board has funded a research program on Blue-Green Biodiversity (BGB). Its goal is to strengthen interdisciplinary biodiversity research of WSL and Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) in order to find answers to urgent social challenges of species loss as quickly as possible. The project is now in its second phase. Please find more information on our homepage at: BGB Initiative WSL

In the framework of this Project within the Biodiversity and Conservation Biology Research Unit and the Biodiversity Group of WSL in collaboration with the Environmental Chemistry of Biomolecules Group at Eawag, we are searching for four years, with a start between August and October 2021 a (f/m/d)
PhD student BGB in “tri-trophic food-webs and the ecological role of cyanobacterial metabolite production”
The goal of this PhD project is to study tri-trophic food-webs on rock-inhabiting cyanobacterial communities in the Swiss Alps. First, you will set-up microcosms in the lab where selected herbivores will feed on cultivated cyanobacteria and an alternative non-cyanobacterial food choice. In a second stage, herbivores that feed on cyanotoxin-containing cyanobacteria will be selected to study their strategy how they overcome the potentially toxic effects of cyanotoxins. We hypothesize that specific herbivores tolerate cyanotoxins and either accumulate and biotransform or metabolize these toxins in their bodies. The analyses of tri-trophic interactions in the third stage, predators, preferentially centipedes, will be selected that feed herbivores, e.g. oribatid mites. You will then test the predator’s preference to feed on cyanotoxin accumulating oribatid mites versus the same species fed on a cyanotoxin-free diet. These experiments will allow to test the tri-trophic niche prediction and shed light on the complex structure and interactions in food-webs in cyanobacterial communities. Your results will indicate how specialized and possibly vulnerable rock-inhabiting food-webs are related to expected shifts in rock-inhabiting cyanobacterial community composition related to climate change. 
With a passion for scientific understanding of biodiversity to join an interdisciplinary team spread over several institutions, the successful applicant will be based in the research group at WSL in Birmensdorf, but will work in close collaboration with Elisabeth Janssen from Eawag, and close exchange with internationally-oriented scientists from WSL, Eawag and University of Berne. The PhD degree will be awarded by the University of Berne.
The successful candidate is expected to hold a Master degree in Biology or Environmental Sciences, is familiar with cyanobacterial biology and /or the experimental study of food-webs and is experienced in mountaineering. Other desired skills include a good knowledge in statistics and programming, conceptual skills, and an independent and structured way of working. An ambitious and highly motivated candidate with a demonstrated high level of team spirit and a good command of English complete the profile.
Please send your complete application by end of May 2021 to Michèle Bucher, Human Resources WSL, by uploading the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered. The application should include: 1) a cover letter with a concise statement about your previous research, your vision for the future and your motivation to work on this project (2-3 pages maximum); 2) a curriculum vitae including (if applicable) the list of publications; 3) copies of your academic qualifications; and 4) names and contact information of 2-3 academic references. Christoph Scheidegger (WSL), christoph.scheidegger(at), phone +41 (0)44 739 23 39, or Elisabeth Janssen (Eawag), Elisabeth.janssen(at), phone +41 (0)58 765 54 28 will be happy to answer any questions or offer further information. The WSL strives to increase the proportion of women in its employment, which is why qualified women are particularly called upon to apply for this position.
Zürcherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf