Post-doctoral position in ecological modelling

Oct 11, 2020
Nov 09, 2020
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
Post-doctoral position in ecological modelling - Modelling drought-driven live fuel moisture dynamics in forest canopies - Open from January 2021 at INRAE URFM, Avignon, France
Mission and working environment

Climate warming will affect wildfire processes by drying fuels. Live fuels are the living components of the vegetation that are susceptible to drive fire spread, namely grasses and the foliage of trees and shrubs. Plant hydraulic processes and stand water balance processes interact to drive live fuel moisture content (live FMC) dynamics during droughts. Such temporal dynamics can be tracked following three distinct but complementary approaches: empirical drought indices (the most commonly used), water-related remote sensing data and products, and process-based modelling. URFM has jointly developed with INRAE PIAF the SUREAU model, a biophysical-based model of hydraulic processes underlying the response to drought that can predict temporal dynamics of live FMC of trees, shrubs and grasses. This model accounts for species-specific response of plants to drought, as well as stand features (i.e. leaf area index and soil water capacity), and may capture mortality events that abruptly turn live fuels into dead ones. Hence it is thought to better represent live FMC dynamics than existing drought indices; yet this needs to be assessed.

The goal of the post-doctoral project is to further develop and evaluate a stand level version of the SUREAU model (SUREAU-ECOS). Model performance will be assessed against field measurements of drought-driven live FMC dynamics (Réseau hydrique network and database, France; US and international live FMC databases), as well as through comparison of SUREAU-ECOS predictions with existing drought and remote sensing indices. Depending on her/his skills in computer programming, the post-doctoral fellow will also contribute to the implementation of the model into forest fuel modelling platforms such as STANDFIRE in USA, Fuel Manager - CAPSIS in France. Fundamental features of SUREAU-ECOS such as the representation of water potential dynamics and their mechanisms, will continue to be assessed in other simultaneous, dedicated projects.

The post-doctoral fellow will join a group specialized in forest ecology, ecophysiology and forest fire science (including Jean-Luc Dupuy, Nicolas Martin, François Pimont, and Julien Ruffault), who is currently developing the SUREAU-ECOS model as well as forest fuel and fire models at INRAE URFM (Ecologie des Forêts Méditerranéennes, Avignon, France ;

Training and skills required
- Ecological modelling, eco-physiology, forest ecology
- Specific skills in plant hydraulics appreciated
- Experience in vegetation remote sensing appreciated
- R language ; programming languages such as Java appreciated
- Excellent writing skills in English

Funding and contract
The post-doctoral position is funded through a joint venture agreement between INRAE and the USDA Forest Service in the frame of a five years research project supported by the US Department of Defense (SERDP Project #RC20-1025). Funding is currently available for 12 months, but this job can be extended for up to 27 months. Position open from January 1, 2021. Gross salary : €2500-3000 per month depending on experience.

Candidates should send a cover letter and a CV by November 6th, 2020 at the latest to:
A shortlist will be established for subsequent interviews and final selection.