Fixed-term Research Scientist position in Community Ecology: Role of biotic interactions in the response of communities to global change

The position in funded for four years by INRAE at ECOFOG ( in Kourou, French Guiana. The gross salary will depend on experience (2,500 – 3,100 €/month, not negotiable). Application will be considered until the end of February 2022 and the position is expected to begin between May and September 2022.
To apply please send a curriculum vitae, a cover letter with a statement of research experience and interests, including research lines that could be developed over the long term and reference letters from three researchers you collaborated.
Contact : Jérôme Orivel ( and Heidy Schimann ( )
The research areas developed in the Joint Research Unit Ecology of Guianan Forests focus on tropical forests. The objectives are to understand the functioning of tropical forests and the effects of global change, and also to produce knowledge to better manage and conserve them. The unit is organized in five research axes: Evolution, Molecular and Chemical Ecology (EECM), Biodiscovery, Uses and Technology (BUT), Processes and Ecosystem Services (PSE), Patterns and Community Assemblages of (PAC), Development and Functioning of Plants (DFP).
Biotic interactions play fundamental roles in the origin and maintenance of species diversity and the provisioning of ecosystem services such as nutrients cycles or primary productivity. The ongoing climate change can trigger cascading effects in species extinctions, which can strongly modify biotic interactions and the functioning of ecosystems. The negative impact of climate change on species coexistence might be even stronger in highly diverse communities, suggesting that tropical ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to an increase of intensity and frequency of extremes climate events. In Amazonia for example, including French Guiana, IPCC reports predict longer and more intense dry seasons, susceptible to strongly modify the abundance, distribution and activity of plant and animal species. Yet, in these ecosystems, the interactions between species remain still poorly studied, especially those involving microorganisms. This lack of knowledge (‘Linnean and Eltonian shortfalls’) is a major bottleneck hampering any reliable predicted responses of biological communities and of their interaction networks to various constraints. In these highly diverse ecosystems, documenting biodiversity is difficult because many species are cryptic, rare or small. One approach to study biotic interactions is to build ecological networks but it requires a high level of taxonomic knowledge and expertise of species in interactions. Complementary to traditional morphological and microscopic approaches, DNA-base methods such as metabarcoding allow identifying a wide range of interacting species from environmental or tissues samples. Therefore, the nature of interactions (antagonistic or mutualistic for example) can only be inferred by combining the two approaches. The challenge is thus to fully benefit from high- throughput sequencing approaches to be able to build significant and relevant ecological networks, and to better predict the modifications generated by environmental changes.
Integrated to the research axis PAC of the EcoFoG research unit, your research will aim at understanding assembly rules of communities and how these communities and the interactions they develop within trophic networks will be modified facing biotic and abiotic constraints and global change predicted in French Guiana. Cascading effects through « bottom-up » and « top-down » processes could lead to species extinctions and thus deep changes in the functioning of ecosystems. It is therefore crucial to better understand how biotic interactions shape local communities.
At first, you will participate to ongoing projects focusing on plant-associated microbial communities and their responses to strong hydric deficit. The aim will be to study plant-microbes’ interactions along natural and forced environmental gradients to unravel the underlying mechanisms controlling species interaction networks and also the factors regulating horizontal and vertical transmissions of microbes in plants. Biotic interactions will be studied in contrasted forest habitats existing in French Guiana and covering a large variability of mineral and hydric resources. These multidisciplinary ongoing projects involve community ecology, microbiology, ecophysiology, network ecology and functional ecology approaches, as well as state-of- the art techniques (metabarcoding, qPCR, enzymatic measures). Over the long term, you will develop your own research program in community ecology on the role of biotic interactions in the response of communities to global change. This program should fit with the research objectives of the thematic axis and the global objectives of the Research Unit, with important collaborations with the other researchers based at EcoFoG.
Needed skills
PhD in Biology or Ecology
Strong Laboratory expertise (the position is multidisciplinary and the candidate must show skills in several of the listed ones) : molecular biology (DNA extraction, PCR, qPCR, metabarcoding and barcoding of communities), traits measurements.
Good abilities in ecology of communities, functional ecology and interaction networks, in bioinformatic and statistic
Good skills in scientific English, satisfactory skills in French
Ability to work in team and independently
Work in tropical and remote areas
LAB : 0745 UMR Ecologie des Forêts de Guyane Kourou, Guyane (
CENTRE : Centre de Recherche Antilles-Guyane

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