Relevance of green stem tissues to hydraulics of urban trees (international 4-year research project; cooperation of Ghent University (Prof. Kathy Steppe) and the University of Innsbruck (Prof. Stefan Mayr).

The project deals with the relevance of green stem tissues to tree hydraulics of urban trees. Based on numerous methods, such as sap flow and stem diameter measurements or acoustic emission analyses, the functional importance of these tissues during drought and frost will be investigated in potted trees of several species, and in adult sycamore trees in Ghent and Innsbruck to compare their hydraulic performance under natural drought and winter stress in a temperate versus alpine climate.


  • Literature survey on urban tree physiology.
  • Development of setup for use of ultrasonic sensors on urban trees.
  • Installation and follow-up of tree-monitors, ultrasonic systems and CITREE dendrometers on trees in Innsbruck.
  • Assessment of vulnerability to drought, frost and salt stress in potted trees of several species.
  • Data analyses and interpretation.
  • Synthesis of research results in internal project reports and manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals.
  • Presentation of results during national and international conferences, seminars and workshops.
  • Participation in a collaborative international research network, with highly motivated and top-level researchers.


The candidate will work at the Department of Botany, University of Innsbruck , research group Ecophysiology under the supervision of Prof. Stefan Mayr and of Prof. Kathy Steppe (Ghent University, Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Department of Plants and Crops, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering). The PhD position will be funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF (gross salary per month 2.300,30).


Tentative starting date: January 2023

Job profile

  • Highly motivated to obtain a PhD and write scientific publications.
  • Basic understanding of quantitative data interpretation and processing (e.g., tree growth, sap flow).
  • Experience, knowledge about and/or interest in tree monitoring techniques and modelling.
  • Good MSc study results.
  • Excellent communication skills in English – both orally and written (knowledge of German may be advantageous).
  • Availability and flexibility for short-term mobility between Innsbruck and Ghent.
  • Strong interests in tree physiology, climate change, state-of-the-art sensor technologies, citizen science and in integrating knowledge across (plant) science disciplines in developing science-based outcomes.

How to apply

The application has to be submitted electronically (in a single pdf-file) to

Include a motivation letter and your CV, and if possible, an overview of study results.

Submit your application as soon as possible, as a decision may be taken before December 2nd (deadline).

For more information about the project, contact Prof. Dr. Stefan Mayr ( or Prof. Kathy Steppe (

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