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MSc and BSc internships on cryptogam ecology


Cryptogams (lichens and bryophytes, i.e. mosses, liverworts and hornworts) are small sized but extremely important organisms. They create substantial biomass in many ecosystems including peatlands, forests, and alpine tundra, host nitrogen fixing bacteria (see a prominent manuscript of my master student K. Gavasov, control soil chemical composition, temperature and moisture regimes, and provide food for many animals including mammals and invertebrates.
Predicted climate change is expected to greatly affect both the abundance and species composition of cryptogams, and therefore all the above mentioned services that they provide to their host ecosystems. This is because most of the cryptogam functionalities are species specific. This means that moss is not just a moss and lichen is not just a lichen. Distinct species do very different things!

My projects aim to unravel the interspecific (between species) differences in bryophyte functional traits (cheractersitics). Within this topic, a number of traineeships including both experimental work and/or literature studies are possible. Subjects include (1) investigations of species specific effects of cryptogams on soil, vegetation and ultimately on climate, (2) studies on symbiotic and competitive relations between bryophytes and other organisms, (3) analyses of bryophyte trait diversity and plasticity and (4) incorporation of the new findings in global vegetation models.

The work you will be doing might include: collecting cryptogams, soil and vascular plant samples in the field, learning cryptogam species, learning and developing novel experimental methods in lab and field, including advanced censoring, microscope work and stable isotope measurements, statistical analysis and possibly modelling (prior experience is not essential). For MSc students field work at the Abisko research station (North Sweden) or Caucasus (Russia) is possible.

If you are interested in challenging experiments and fieldwork in peatlands and alpine tundra in Lapland and/or Caucasus, and/or Netherlands (only peatlands), cryptogam ecology, and development of frontier scientific methodology, please contact me: Nadia.Soudzilovskaia@falw.vu.nl; post-doc at Dept. of Systems Ecology (room A-167), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

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Willem Barentsz Poolinstituut

Bundeling van kennis, onderzoek en onderwijs over de Noord- en de Zuidpool

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