BES Forest Ecology Group

A British Ecological Society Special Interest Group

PhD Studentship: Forest Edge Effects on Wood Decomposition and Fungal Community Development

Location: Cardiff University

Deadline: 15 January 2015

Forest edges alter fungal activity

Forest edges affect fungal activity

Forests and woodlands around the world are increasingly fragmented. In the UK, three quarters of woodland area is within 100 m of the edge. Edges tend to be drier and warmer, with gradients that penetrate hundreds of metres into forests. A preliminary study has revealed that edge effects, particularly due to water regime, have a major effect on the wood decay rate in southern England, but effects on and of fungal communities are unknown. The aim of this PhD project is to determine edge effects on fungal community structure, and on the rate of wood decomposition. A combination of different field and laboratory approaches will be employed. Experiments will be conducted in both beech and conifer woodlands under two different climatic regimes. Fungal community composition in naturally fallen and colonised wood along transects from the woodland edge inwards will be determined by culturing, and by DNA extraction and next generation sequencing. Field experiments will be backed up by laboratory experiments on decay rate under controlled temperature and moisture regimes. The relationships between climate and decomposition rates will be combined with spatial data on woodland extent, to build a model of the influence of edge effects across the UK. Climate change projections will be used to estimate potential wood decomposition rates and fungal community composition in the future.

The student will be based for 80% of the time in the internationally recognised fungal ecology research group in Cardiff University, which specialises in the ecology of wood decomposing fungi, and 20% of the time at Exeter, where the student will benefit from the supervisors excellence in statistical and mathematical approaches, and forest ecology. Training will include use of modern molecular microbiological approaches, ecological experimental design, statistical analysis, R, modelling, fungal culture and identification, empirical data collection and analysis, including bioinformatics, literature reviewing and meta-analysis, scientific writing, poster and oral presentations, and project management. Attendance at national and international scientific meetings is strongly encouraged, as is short stays at other research labs.

Applications are invited from graduates who possess at least 2.1 Honours or Master’s degree in microbiology, ecology, biology, or other relevant discipline.

To apply, please email your CV, 2 referees and relevant academic qualifications along with a covering letter to Professor Lynne Boddy at AND also submit an online application at the following University’s online portal by selecting ‘Doctor of Philosophy (Biosciences) October Start – 01 Oct 2015’ :

Informal enquiries are also encouraged: please contact either Professor Lynne Boddy or Dr Dan Bebber.
Further information can be found at


Crockatt ME, Bebber DP. 2014. Edge effects on moisture reduce wood decomposition rate in a temperate forest. Global Change Biology. DOI:10.1111/gcb.12676.

Funding Notes:

This studentship includes UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of at least £13,863. EU applicant who do not meet the residency criteria will be eligible for fees only award.

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This entry was posted on November 21, 2014 by in Studentship and tagged , , , , , , , .

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