Biodiversité, flux et changements globaux


PhD in Functional Ecology

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Thesis subject: Interacting effects of soil biodiversity and climate change on ecosystem functioning in a Mediterranean forest

Supervisors: Stephan HÄTTENSCHWILER & Alexandru MILCU

Summary of thesis project: 

The thesis project aims at a better understanding of the interactive effects of functional diversity of soil macrofauna communities and increasing intensity of summer drought on the functioning of a Mediterranean forest ecosystem. The major goal is to quantify different properties and processes at the ecosystem level and how they are modified by variable functional diversity of soil macrofauna communities and increased summer drought. The use of the mesocosms of the European Ecotron of Montpellier offers the unique opportunity to test the interactive effects of macrofauna diversity and increased summer drought experimentally. With continuous measurements of gas fluxes and the water balance, it will be possible to quantify the treatment effects at the scale of model ecosystems and to evaluate more specific processes such as plant growth, carbon allocation belowground and root traits, leaf level gas exchange, phenology, organic matter decomposition, soil respiration, soil microbial activity, or mycorrhizal root colonization in parallel. The numerous measurements in a large experiment will allow a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the consequences of changing soil biodiversity in interaction with an important aspect of climate change for a Mediterranean forest ecosystem with unprecedented detail. 

The PhD thesis will focus mainly on plant responses, including above- and belowground growth, gas exchange, and root-mycorrhizae interactions, but may additionally include soil microbial activity or ecosystem-level C, nutrient and water cycling depending on the PhD student’s specific interests. The PhD thesis is part of the larger research project “BELOW” of Occitanie’s BiodivOc program ( involving research teams from CEFE (Montpellier), SETE (Moulis), LEFE (Toulouse), Eco&Sols (Montpellier), and the Ecotron (Montpellier) working on a variety of field sites in addition to the fully controlled Ecotron experiment.


MSc Biological Sciences, University of Manchester (2021-2022)

BSc Zoology, University of Sheffield (2018-2021)