Postdoctoral position - Tracing the origin of vertebrate’s major ecological transitions with lithium isotopes

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Short description

The LIO Laboratory of Excellence (LabEx) proposes a 2-year post-doctoral position.

Starting date: September the 1st, 2022

The net salary (+social benefits) will depend on experience. A €3,000 annual package for travels and equipment will be allotted.

Research project (1/2 page – 1 page)

The aim of the postdoc project is to document the potential of Lithium isotopes to identify living water environments of extant and extinct vertebrates, and to understand the origin of the factors that control Li isotope fractionation and Li transfers within different past and present vertebrates’ environments.

               Using a representative number of analyses, the candidate will investigate whether this proxy based on Li isotopes can be applied to all vertebrate groups such as bony fishes, sharks, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Bone and tooth samples of extant species living in contrasted environments (marine, brackish, fresh) are available for analysis. The ultimate goal is to establish a precise proxy to the vertebrate living environment based on the combined use of Li, O and S stable isotopes that can be applied to the fossil record.

               The established proxy will then be tested on Miocene vertebrates’ bones and teeth from the Falun deposits, where marine and continental species are found in association. These samples are already on our procession and their δ18O values have been published.

            Depending on the results, the candidate will then focus on one of the main questions of vertebrates’ ecological transition: the Devonian terrestrialization of tetrapods. He/she will use bones samples from Devonian tetrapods, already in our possession and previously analysed for their δ18O and δ34S values that revealed the freshwater or seawater influence on the living environment of the Devonian tetrapod species. Li isotopes will allow to refine previous conclusions by specifying the species that live in transitional environments. 

Research field(s)

Geochemistry, Paleo-ecology, paleo-environment

Supervisor and contact

Name: Romain Amiot

Laboratory: Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon, Terre, Planètes, environnement, UMR 5276. Batiment Géode, 2 rue Raphaël Dubois, 69622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France.

Phone number: +33 6 50 30 04 20

Email: romain.amiot@univ-lyon1.fr

Working environment

Job location and description

Part of the project (Li isotope measurements of bioapatite) will take place on the «TIMS+Proteus» platform of the LIO. Those measurements will be conducted on the Neptune Plus ICP-MS  available on the LGL-TPE platform located at ENS Lyon (Lyon). Oxygen and sulfur isotope measurements will be conducted on the LGL-TPE platform « GISEL » at Université Lyon 1 (Villeurbanne).


The project involves a collaboration with four researchers at the LGL-TPE:

-Jeremy Martin (Chargé de recherche CNRS, ENS Lyon, currently supervising 2 PhD students) will supervise Ca isotope analyses;

-Romain Amiot (Chargé de recherche CNRS, Univ. Lyon 1, currently supervising 3 PhD students) ; 

-Christophe Lécuyer (Professeur, Univ. Lyon 1), currently supervising 2 PhD students) will supervise O and S isotope analyses.

- Philippe Telouk (Ingénieur de Recherche CNRS, Ens Lyon) will supervise Li isotope analyses

Allocated resources (technical facilites, computing…)

Clean laboratories, ICP-MS, IRMS. The LIO provides an allowance of 2000€ for a personal computer.

Recent publications of the team

Amiot, R., Kusuhashi, N., Saegusa, H., Shibata, M., Ikegami, N., Shimojima, S., Sonoda, T., Fourel, F., Ikeda, T., Lécuyer, C., 2021. Paleoclimate and ecology of Cretaceous continental ecosystems of Japan inferred from the stable oxygen and carbon isotope compositions of vertebrate bioapatite. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 205, 104602. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jseaes.2020.104602

Goedert, J, R Amiot, D Berthet, F Fourel, L Simon, and  Lécuyer. 2020. Combined oxygen and sulphur isotope analysis—a new tool to unravel vertebrate (paleo)-ecology. The Science of Nature 107, no. 2 (2020): 10.

Goedert, J., Lécuyer, C., Amiot, R., Arnaud-Godet, F., Wang, X., Cui, L., Cuny, G., Douay, G., Fourel, F., Panczer, G. and Simon, L., 2018. Euryhaline ecology of early tetrapods revealed by stable isotopes. Nature, 558(7708), pp.68-72. 

Linglin, M., Amiot, R., Richardin, P., Porcier, S., Antheaume, I., Berthet, D., Grossi, V., Fourel, F., Flandrois, J.-P., Louchart, A., Martin, J.E., Lécuyer, C., 2020. Isotopic systematics point to wild origin of mummified birds in Ancient Egypt. Scientific Reports 10, 15463. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-72326-7

Martin, J.E., Tacail, T., Braga, J., Cerling, T.E. and Balter, V., 2020. Calcium isotopic ecology of Turkana Basin hominins. Nature communications, 11(1), pp.1-7.

Description of LabEx LIO

In 2011, The Lyon Institute of Origins LabEx was selected following the first “Laboratory of Excellence” call for projects, part of the “Investissement d’Avenir” program for forward-looking research. It is one of 12 LabExes supported by the University of Lyon community of universities and establishments (COMUE). LIO brings together more than 200 elite researchers recruited throughout the word and forming 18 research teams from four laboratories in the Rhône-Alps region, all leaders in their fields, under the auspices of the University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL), the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, and the CNRS. LIO’s goal is to explore questions about our origins, operating in a broad field of study that ranges from particle physics to geophysics, and includes cosmology, astrophysics, planetology and life.

Selection process

Qualifications / Skills / Education & Research requirements

The candidate must hold a PhD and have previous experience in the clean lab and measuring isotope ratios on various mass spectrometers. Experience in non-traditional isotope systems would be a plus. Because of existing cross-disciplinary bridges, we will also consider candidates with a background in isotopic ecology. Finally, fieldwork and museum visits to collect samples are also to be considered in the frame of the project.

Application deadline

April the 1st, 2022

Requested documents for application

Applicants must email a CV, a statement of interest, a letter of recommendation and contact details for 2-3 references romain.amiot@univ-lyon1.fr before April the 1st, 2022. 

Candidates on the short list will be informed by the end of April. They will be interviewed in May. 

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Job details

Postdoctoral position - Tracing the origin of vertebrate’s major ecological transitions with lithium isotopes
43 Bd du 11 Novembre 1918 Villeurbanne, France
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In 2011, Lyon Institute of Origins (LIO) LabEx was selected following the first “Laboratory of Excellence” call for projects, part of the “Investis...

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