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ENV-PHYSIOL  December 2011

ENV-PHYSIOL December 2011

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Subject:

funded PhD opportunity

From:

Colin Osborne <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Colin Osborne <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 10:18:55 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (53 lines)

Postgraduate student opportunity for funded PhD research on:  
‘‘Response of C3 and C4 grasses to fire and herbivory”
Rhodes University, South Africa

South African R95 000 yr-1 for 3 years.

A collaborative project between Rhodes University, and the  
Universities of Sheffield and Cambridge.

The future climate of southern Africa is likely to include an  
increased intensity of the monsoonal system accompanied by greater  
fire frequency. Fire in grassy ecosystems is not selective and species  
that are tolerant of burning increase in abundance. Recent research  
has demonstrated that C4 grasses are more tolerant of burning than  
closely related C3 species. The C4 species recover faster after fire  
and have traits including higher winter fuel loads and flammability  
that are likely to promote seasonal burning. In addition to these  
direct effects on grass performance, re-growth after fire increases  
leaf palatability, which compounds potential palatability differences  
between C3 and C4 species. Hence, an understanding of the interaction  
of fire and herbivory is essential to understanding the future  
community structure of grassy ecosystems.

This study proposes to investigate this interaction by comparing the  
response of a model species (Alloteropsis semialata) to fire and  
selective herbivory using a common garden plot experiment. Replicate  
plots co-planted with the C3 and C4 subspecies of A. semialata have  
been established at Rhodes University (Grahamstown, South Africa) and  
will be subject to fire and selective herbivory in a factorial design.  
The relative performance of C3 and C4 plants will be assessed using  
established techniques. Results are anticipated to make a significant  
contribution to our mechanistic understanding how C3 and C4 grasses  
respond differentially to fire.

Applicants interested should have graduated with an appropriate degree  
(ecology or ecophysiology) and are welcome to make enquires of either  
Prof. Brad Ripley ([log in to unmask]) or Dr Colin Osborne ([log in to unmask] 
). Applicants can be of any nationality and should send a full CV,  
academic transcript and details of 3 referees to Prof. Brad Ripley,  
Botany Department, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, or [log in to unmask] 
. Closing date is the 20th January 2012. The bursary is higher than  
the standard NRF rate, and will support a good standard of living for  
a graduate student in South Africa


--------------------
Colin Osborne
Dept. Animal and Plant Sciences
University of Sheffield

tel: +44-114-222-0146
lab pages: http://web.me.com/colin.osborne/lab/home.html
ecological informatics: www.grassportal.org

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