Isotopes and forest growth

Graduate opening in ecosystem modeling of tree rings, isotopes and global change at Montana State University

The Ecosystem Dynamics lab at Montana State University ( has an opening for a graduate student, at the Masters or PhD level, to work on questions related to leaf-to-ecosystem scale responses under elevated atmospheric CO2. Atmospheric CO2 levels are now 40% above pre-industrial era concentrations and it remains unclear how plant-level productivity and water-use efficiency have been affected, and what this means for ecosystem scale processes. The Ecosystem Dynamics lab uses ecological process-based modeling approaches in collaboration with the eco-physiology, dendrochronology, and experimental ecology communities to better understand these questions and implications for environmental change under future atmospheric chemistry and climate scenarios. The proposed research involves developing and implementing several new physiological modules, including representing carbon and oxygen isotopes, and non-structural carbohydrates, into an existing dynamic global vegetation model. Isotopic data from tree rings will be used to pose ecological questions related to 20th century climate trends and other atmospheric chemistry changes. The student is expected to have an enthusiasm for ecosystem science, as well as a desire to use quantitative methods in modeling to achieve their goals. Experience is programming is a plus, but not required, open source tools will be used, including UNIX OS, and C++, CDO, NCL, R and shell scripting languages. The student will be expected to present research at conferences, write up results of the research in peer-reviewed literature, and collaborate with scientists across several disciplines. Three years of salary and tuition are guaranteed, and an additional 2 years of support will be expected to come from fellowship sources. Montana State University is located nearby Yellowstone National Park in Bozeman, Montana. Bozeman is a dynamic community with lots of outdoors, cultural, and learning opportunities. The position is available summer 2014, with enrollment in courses to begin in August 2014. Please contact Dr. Ben Poulter, with a 1-page letter of interest, a CV, and contact information for 3 references. Applications will be considered as they are submitted, with an open deadline until filled.