Hydraulic vulnerability of Southern Amazonian forests

Supervisors: Dr David Galbraith, Professor Emanuel Gloor, Beatriz Marimon-Schwantes, Benhur Marimon, Professor Oliver Phillips, Dr Roel Brienen, Dr Graeme Swindles, and Julia Tavares

Southern Amazonian humid forests have been exposed most strongly to warming and recently also drier than usual conditions likely as a result of deforestation in the region. Both climatic trends enhance the risk for collapse of the hydraulic system of trees. Water has to be pulled up by trees from the soil to the canopy to keep leaves well watered and alive.

With increasing drought the pull on water filaments in vessels needs to increase as well - and at some point the filaments will break and vessels embolise. The robustness of trees to embolism can be determined from so-called vulnerability curves which determine tree water conductivity decrease with increasing pull combined with measurements of maximum observed pull at canopy leaves.

The purpose of this project is to measure hydraulic properties of trees along a transect from the Southern dry end of Amazonian humid forest (Nova Xavantina, Mato Grosso) to Alta Floresta which is much wetter. The purpose of the study will be to provide these measurements with possible extensions to relate the data to recent mortality trends measured at forest plots - and possibly based on remote sensing surveys.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or be in their final year and expecting to receive, a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1) in a relevant subject. Applicants will need to have their own funding in place for fees and living costs. Study can begin on the first of any month.

How to apply

Please see “Step 2” on our How to apply page.

UK/EU applicants may be eligible for a £1000 Masters by Research Bursary, funded by the Ecology and Global Change cluster. Up to 2 bursaries are available and will be awarded on academic merit. Applications received before the 30th June 2019 will be considered for the bursary.

For project enquiries, please contact Dr David Galbraith or Professor Emanuel Gloor. For application enquiries, please contact Jacqui Manton, e: j.manton@leeds.ac.uk.