The WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF is part of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL and thus of the ETH Domain. WSL focuses on the sustainable use and protection of the environment and on the handling of natural hazards. WSL employs approximately 600 people, of whom 140 work at SLF in Davos.

The Group Mountain Ecosystems within the Research Unit Alpine Environments and Natural Hazards investigates how climate change and land use affects the diversity and functioning of alpine ecosystems and is looking for a PhD in „Climate change effects on plant-enemy interactions”

The prospective PhD project aims to investigate the effects of invertebrate herbivores and fungal pathogens on plant communities, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and how they will be altered by climate warming. The project will use a combination of approaches: 1) insect, mollusc and fungal pathogen exclusion experiments across an elevational gradient in Swiss grasslands, combined with experimental warming and surveys of plant and enemy community responses, 2) multi-species transplant experiments that simulate future enemy scenarios faced by focal plants and 3) data from a globally replicated experiment. This will advance our understanding of species and ecosystem responses to climate change, which is key to forecast future dynamics of pests, diseases and biological diversity.

The PhD will be directly supervised by Dr. Anne Kempel (WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF) and will collaborate with Prof. Eric Allan (University of Bern), Prof. Robert Junker (University of Marburg, Germany) and Prof. Jake Alexander (ETH Zürich). The project is embedded in the research network “BugNet” (, a globally collaborative research network with the aim to better understand the impact of invertebrate herbivores and fungal pathogens on plant communities.

You hold a master in ecology or a related field and you are a highly qualified and motivated student with a strong interest in climate change, plant ecology and biotic interactions. You enjoy field and lab work and have a good knowledge and interest in statistics and data analysis using R. Interest and skills in insect identification are an advantage. In addition, you are a team player and have a good command of written and spoken English.

Please send your complete application to Jasmine Zimmermann, Human Resources SLF, by uploading the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered. Anne Kempel (, will be happy to answer any questions or offer further information. The WSL strives to increase the proportion of women in its employment, which is why qualified women are particularly called upon to apply for this position.

Apply now

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