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Postdoc (f/d/m) – Research on early Permian plant-microbe interactions and stromatolites

A Postdoctoral position is available at the Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie (BSPG) as part of the Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns (SNSB) in Munich, Germany. Starting date is April 1, 2020. The position is fixed-term (18 months). Salary scale: TV-L 13, 100%.

Project description:
The end of the late Paleozoic ice age (Pennsylvanian-Permian) resulted in considerable changes of vegetation dynamics and repeated variations in tropical climate. While many studies are available on the large-scale effects of this event on the ecosystems, small-scale investigations that address specific organismal interactions in local communities are rare. The lower Permian of Manebach, Germany, part of the Thuringian Forest Basin reference section, have been collected for nearly 200 years, in particular for structurally preserved specimens of the tree fern Psaronius. Recent studies have provided new insights into the geology, stratigraphy, paleoecology and -climatology of this site, and a better characterization of the paleoecosystem has now become possible and will provide insights into the geo-biological constraints of its life and preservation.

A collaborative research project between the SNSB-BSPG (Prof. Dr. Michael Krings) and the Museum of Natural History Chemnitz (Prof. Dr. Ronny Rößler) currently investigates assemblages of fungi and other microorganisms that occur within the different tissues of Psaronius and other plants from Manebach. We document the diversity of microbes, map out their spatial distribution, and assess the levels of interrelatedness that characterized individual plants as habitats and micro-ecosystems. Moreover, we investigate the taphonomic conditions and pathways that have led to the exceptional preservation of the microorganisms. Outcomes will broaden our knowledge of the interrelationships between plants and microbes and how they responded to climate and environmental change in the early Permian. This will contribute to a better understanding of the roles different microorganisms played in the ecosystems in which they lived, and how they affected the evolution of terrestrial communities. Study will focus on a dynamic palaeoenvironment that was nested within an interregional traceable wet phase in the Cisuralian and represents one of the last coal swamp refugia in the Variscan interior. Our integrative approach includes geological fieldwork, light-microscopy of plants and microorganisms based on thin sections, cathodoluminescence and scanning electron microscopy with orientation contrast imaging by backscattered electrons and electron backscatter diffraction, as well as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to assess taphonomic processes and constraints.

We invite applications from highly motivated candidates to participate in this research project and focus on plant-fungal interactions and the silicified stromatolites that surround some of the plant fossils from the Manebach Formation. Tasks will include fieldwork in Manebach, laboratory work in Chemnitz and Munich, macroscopic and microscopic studies of structurally preserved plants, plant-associated microorganisms, and stromatolites.

The ideal candidate holds a PhD/doctorate in paleontology and/or geology, with a strong background in the fields of continental sedimentology and paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Applicants should have broad research expertise and experience in fieldwork. Proficiency in (isotope) geochemistry, microscopy, and data analyses, as well as excellent communication skills in German and English (oral and written) is required. Knowledge of Paleozoic paleobotany and basic microbiology are of advantage.

Please send your application until March 29 2020 to the

Generaldirektion der Staatlichen
Naturwissenschaftlichen Sammlungen Bayerns
Menzinger Straße 71
80638 München
z.Hd. Herrn RAR Hubert Scholz
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Applications should include a cover letter, a short summary of research interests and experience, CV, list of publications, and certificates.

The SNSB are an equal opportunity employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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