Tropical peatlands are among the most carbon dense ecosystems globally (Honorio-Coronado et al., 2021) but we lack an understanding of the long-term drivers of tropical peat (and carbon) accumulation. The expected results will transform our understanding of the drivers of tropical peat & carbon accumulation and provide crucial insights into their vulnerability to climate and land-use change, across wide spatial gradients. They will also inform the parallel development of a dynamic tropical peat model, which the PhD will contribute to.

The successful applicant will collect new peat cores in Guyana (in collaboration with Guyanese researchers), which previous research hints could be substantially older than those of Amazonia (van der Hammen., 1963). They will establish timing of peat initiation by obtaining basal dates for each core (if possible, taken from a variety of peat-forming ecosystems, e.g. Aguajal palm swamp, Honorio-Coronado., 2021) using radiocarbon dating. The cores will be further sampled (5-10 dates) to establish outline age/ depth models. Following this, periods of interest (based on some combination of the paleoenvironmental proxies- charcoal, δ2H, δ13C, br-GDGT and pollen analysis) will be dated more intensively at higher resolution to understand the primary drivers of peat & carbon accumulation. The cores from Guyana will be compared against peat initiation and age/ depth models from cores previously collected in Peru (collaboration with Dr Ian Lawson-University of St Andrews) and the same paleoenvironmental proxies will be applied to the Peruvian cores

The student will become a member of an exciting new team led by an early-career group leader and collaborate closely with colleagues at the Universities of St Andrews and Guyana. The successful applicant will have an MSc level degree in one of the following fields (or equivalent/ similar field): Ecology, Environmental Science, Soil Science, Botany, Earth Science, Palynology.

Salary up to 28,000 CZK per month depending on performance/ activities.


Honorio-Coronado, E. N., Hastie, A., et al. Intensive field sampling increases the known extent of carbon-rich Amazonian peatland pole forests. Environ. Res. Lett. 16, 74048. (2021).

van der Hammen, Thomas. (1963). A palynological study on the Quaternary of British Guiana. Leidse Geologische Mededelingen29(1), 125–168.

Hastie, A., Honorio Coronado, E.N., Reyna, J. et al. Risks to carbon storage from land-use change revealed by peat thickness maps of Peru. Nat. Geosci. 15, 369–374 (2022).

Kuneš, P, Abraham, V, Herben, T. Changing disturbance-diversity relationships in temperate ecosystems over the past 12000 years. J Ecol; 107: 1678– 1688 (2019).

Hastie, A., Lauerwald, R., Ciais, P., Regnier, P. Aquatic carbon fluxes dampen the overall variation of net ecosystem productivity in the Amazon basin: An analysis of the interannual variability in the boundless carbon cycle. Glob Change Biol. 25: 2094– 2111, (2019)

Kuneš, P.; Svobodová-Svitavská, H.; Kolář, J.; Hajnalová, M.; Abraham, V.; Macek, M.; Tkáč, P.; and Szabó, P. The origin of grasslands in the temperate forest zone of east-central Europe: long-term legacy of climate and human impact. Quaternary Science Reviews, 116: 15–27, (2015)

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