PhD in 'Towards a reliable European assessment of soil biodiversity status under current land use changes'


Collaborative Doctoral Partnership JRC - University of VIGO (ES)

Within the CDP framework we are looking for a PhD candidate willing to embrace a multidisciplinary approach by gaining ecological/taxonomical knowledge at the University of Vigo and the modelling/biogeography capabilities within the JRC. Presently, no country has legislation that specifically protects soil biodiversity, which may be an issue considering that global food security is highly dependent on soil organisms. Protecting soils remain an important objective for the European Union (EU) but this goal cannot be achieved without considering soil biodiversity fully.

The ultimate aim of this PhD will be to provide policy tools aiming at developing actions to protect soil biodiversity at European level. So far, soil biodiversity has been neglected in environmental assessments despite its crucial roles in offering several contributions to people. Therefore, conservation measures would be necessary.

In the first phase, the PhD candidate will expand our current knowledge on soil genetic diversity beyond soil microorganisms to mesofauna and macrofauna groups in European agricultural soils. As part of LUCAS Soil survey (, the JRC is analysing soil microbial biodiversity in 1,000 locations across EU using DNA metabarcoding techniques. Therefore, the first research aim will be to obtain direct measurements of the effects of land-use changes on soil fauna diversity at plot-scale and landscape levels (as they might not be the same). New soil fauna data will be combined with microbial data to get a better overview of the entire soil food web. This will provide a greater understanding of these processes and hence, contribute to better comprehend the ecosystem resilience. In a second phase during her/his stay in UVIGO, the PhD candidate will interpret findings on soil biodiversity in relation to soil quality, biological habitat formation and ecosystem services. At a final stage, the PhD candidate will integrate all gathered information propose management practices and policy tools that promote and preserve soil organisms, their functions and related services.

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Friday, November 22, 2019