Job details

Job posted by International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles (22/07/2014 11.59)

Role of biopores for fluid flow and matter transport from topsoil upon (extreme) weather events

Biopores are well known as hot-spots of (micro-) biological activity in soils. Recently, their role within major biogeochemical element cycles including of carbon, nitrogen, silicon, iron and manganese, and for the water budget and water dynamics are discussed.


Besides burrows of higher animals and insects like termites or soil dwelling ants, root channels and earthworm burrows are the most abundant and ubiquitous biopores. The latter not only because of their abundance – there may be as much as 70 earthworm burrow per square meter- but also because of their role for the hydraulic and physicochemical conditions of the pore network of soils, i.e. the topological features and interface properties associated with the burrow walls and their coatings. Thus, fluid flow and transport of dissolved and colloidal matter must be severely affected by the presence of such biopores. Due to the fact that biopores may act as hydraulic and pneumatic short circuits across soil horizons and horizon boundaries, the may even function as links of the different subsurface compartments expanding even beyond the subsoil. Yet, it is still unclear under which environmental boundary conditions biopores contribute to water flux and transport of solutes and colloids.

The PhD project will aim on the role of biopores for water flow and matter transport upon (extreme) weather events. Special consideration will be put on the mobilization and transport of biocolloids upon steady rain, thunderstorms and snowmelt. As the initial soil conditions are of utmost importance, spatially and temporarily resolved information on the soil milieu will be monitored. Both laboratory bench scale experiments and field observations employing lysimeters will be used to assess the factors and levels that favor biopore flux and transport in and beyond the soil environment.

Nr of positions available : 1

Research Fields

Environmental science - Earth science

Career Stage

Early stage researcher or 0-4 yrs (Post graduate)

Research Profiles

First Stage Researcher (R1)


Successful applicants will be part of the International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Research at the school focuses on the distribution of elements essential to life and the climate among the components of the Earth system and the interaction between biosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, land and oceans.
Besides doing research for their PhD project, PhD candidates also benefit from a three-month external research visit, specialized courses in e.g. statistics, Earth observation, modeling and analytical techniques, as well as in soft skills. The school is thus an excellent starting platform for a successful career in a field related to global biogeochemical cycles and Earth System Science.


Required Research Experiences
Main Research Field Environmental science
Sub Research Field Earth science
Required Languages
Language ENGLISH
Language Level Excellent
Required Education Level
Degree Field Agricultural sciences
Degree Field Biological sciences
Degree Field Environmental science
Degree Field Geography
Degree Field Geosciences
Degree Master Degree or equivalent
Degree Master Degree or equivalent
Degree Master Degree or equivalent
Degree Master Degree or equivalent
Degree Master Degree or equivalent
Required Research Experiences
Years of Research Experience -
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International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles

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Hans-Knöll-Str. 10

EU Research Framework Programme
Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?


International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Public Research
Hans-Knöll-Str. 10
07745 - Jena
email imprs-gbgc@bgc-jena.mpg.de