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PhD position, Reconstructing Past Vegetation and Fire History in the Landes de Gascogne Area - Toulouse, France

PhD position, Reconstructing Past Vegetation and Fire History in the Landes de Gascogne Area - Toulouse, France



Supervisor’s team

The PhD student will be jointly supervised by Dr. Florence Mazier and Dr. Marie Claude Bal (Department of Environmental Geography, University of Toulouse, France). The scientific consortium will be enlarged to different persons that are members of the FIRE-LANDES project: Prof Adam Ali (Institute of Evolutionary Sciences of Montpellier (ISEM), University of Montpellier, France), Dr. Damien Rius (Chrono-Environment Laboratory, University of Bourgogne Franche-Comté), Prof. Guillaume de Lafontaine (University of Quebec, Rimouski, Quebec) and Prof. Emmanuel Chapron (Department of Environmental Geography, University of Toulouse, France)

What is the department offering?

• Be part of a team of leading scientists in different fields of academia • Develop multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary research skills.
• Establish a professional network in academia
• Internships and visits to different disciplinary institutes.

Salary and conditions

The appointment will be for 36 months. Salary of 2135€ month for three years


The place of employment and work is the palaeoecological research group of the Department of Environmental Geography, at Toulouse Jean Jaurès University (, France. The group currently includes seven senior researchers, two research engineers, one technician, five PhD students and four Post-Docs. Environmental Science includes palaeoecology, geoarchaeology, environmental geology and chemistry. The focus of the palaeoecological group is on Holocene landscape dynamics and relationships between vegetation/landscapes, human activity, metallurgy, pollution history, and climate change over century to millennial time scales. The most unique expertise of the group includes pollen-vegetation modelling (pollen-based quantitative reconstructions of past
vegetation cover/landscape openness/deforestation), sedimentology analysis for reconstruction of past human occupation and pollution, and charcoal analysis for inference of past fire history, metallurgy, and land-use.
Reconstructing Past Vegetation and Fire History in the Landes de Gascogne Area

The department is recruiting a student to undertake a PhD within their team at the Environmental Geography Laboratory - GEODE, based in Toulouse, France. The doctoral candidate will participate in the ANR FIRELANDES research project (, which aims to improve their ability to project future interactions between climate and fires in the Landes de Gascogne region (SW France) by using paleoecological data (paleo-fires and paleo-vegetation) and models to capture a larger portion of the natural variability of ecosystem flammability. The thesis will focus on reconstructing vegetation (composition, abundance, structure) and fire history in the Landes region, Southwest France.
This PhD will focus on past vegetation and fire history using pollen and macrocharcoal data archived in sediment cores retrieved from target lakes and wetlands in the Landes de Gascogne area (LGA).

The tasks of the PhD student will include:
• Reconstruct the history of plant composition and abundance.
• Derive fire frequency and severity over the last 5000 years.

The candidate will produce maps of regional and landscape openness and types of forest cover in the LGA over the last 5000 years as a background to the local reconstructions for target sites. This will be achieved using pollen databases, new pollen cores, and the landscape reconstruction algorithm (REVEALS and LOVE models) to estimate regional and local past vegetation cover. The candidate will scale up fire frequency and biomass burned reconstructions from local to regional scales and will further compare the synchronicity of fire activities within the LGA area. The thesis will seek to explain the observed differences in the intensity, frequency, and severity of fires based on vegetation composition, species abundance, and flammability over the past 5000 years.
This PhD position offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the understanding of historical climate- fire interactions and to feed/develop predictive models that can inform future land management and conservation strategies.


• Literature Review: Conduct thorough reviews of existing literature on paleoecology, fire history, and vegetation modeling.
• Data Analysis: Perform regional and local analyses of vegetation and fire activities using pollen databases and new pollen and charcoal anaysis
• Modeling and Statistics: Utilize GIS, R statistical environment, and other tools for pollen-based modeling and statistical analysis.
• Collaboration: Work closely with other PhD students, post-docs, and researchers involved in the FIRELANDES project.
• Dissemination: Publish research findings in scientific journals and present results at conferences.

The department seeks an excellent, highly motivated candidate with an MSc (or equivalent degree) in Ecology, Environmental Science, Conservation Science or related fields. They expect a strong interest in paleoecology as well as in European ecosystem. Mandatory skills include a sound background in geographic information systems, statistics and the R statistical environment. They expect a strong interest in environmental issues, land-use history, and fire ecology. The candidate should also have field and laboratory experience.
Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter before 15/08/2024 17:00.
The vacancy is posted in both English and French on the above webpage.
Application deadline
Further information
Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter before 15/08/2024 17:00.
In case of any questions, please get in touch with Dr. Florence Mazier
Contact email