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UvA, PhD Position – Effects of Herbivores on Nutrient and Carbon Flows in Eutrophic Wetland

The Netherlands

The University of Amsterdam (UvA) invites applications for a Ph.D. position who will set up and carry out field experiments to test the effects of grazing, and excrements on soil and vegetation properties and processes of C, N, and P cycling, at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), The Netherlands – Feb 2022

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General Info

Position: PhD Position
No. of Positions: 1
Research Field: , , ,
Deadline to Apply: Expired
Joining Date: Apr 01, 2022
Contract Period: 4 Years
Salary: 2,434 EURO/Month

Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
University of Amsterdam
University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Netherlands


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Qualification Details

  • An MSc in Earth Sciences, Ecology, or Biology, or related discipline.
  • An interest in, and understanding of, linkages between above ground communities and below ground communities and processes and an understanding of biogeochemical cycles.
  • Experience in field- or glasshouse experiments and analysis and interpretation of experimental data.
  • Good computational, analytical and geospatial statistical skills, including the use of programming languages such as R.
  • The ability to present information in an accurate and appropriate format, and to communicate effectively with a range of groups including scientists and stakeholders with interests in soils and their management.
  • Good written and spoken English.

Responsibilities/Job Description

Are you interested in nature conservation and soil carbon storage? Then you can contribute to these very topical discussions by advancing our understanding of the effect of conservation practices, such as rewilding or controlled management on soil functioning and vegetation patterns. The research will be carried out in one of the largest grazed eutrophic wetland areas in North-west Europe, The Oostvaardersplassen, which is part of the National Park Nieuw Land.

In this collaborative project between the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) and Staatsbosbeheer we aim to understand what the effects are of grazing by large herbivores and geese on vegetation heterogeneity and soil functioning, with a particular focus on nutrient and carbon cycling. One of the questions is what the implications are of high or low numbers of large herbivores and/or geese on these processes. You will use large-scale field exclosures that exclude grazing by large herbivores and geese to test the effects of grazing experimentally. You will sample vegetation and soil to assess how grazing affects plants and soil biodiversity, and the processes of carbon and nutrient cycling that they govern. You will also relate the findings to spatio-temporal variation in aboveground biomass production and vegetation associations by satellite and LIDAR measurements.

This knowledge will contribute to more effective management of conservation areas similar to the Oostvaardersplassen wetland, like the Lepelaarsplassen and the newly created Markerwadden, that are also part of the National Park Nieuwland and also other wetland systems such as the National Park Lauwersmeer.

What are you going to do

You will set up and carry out field experiments to test the effects of grazing, and excrements on soil and vegetation properties and processes of C, N, and P cycling. You will analyse and interpret the resulting data, and communicate the results via presentations and publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as a high-quality PhD thesis. You will work closely together with the interdisciplinary project team, and you will communicate research plans and findings with the project team, collaborators, and stakeholders. You will determine the priorities of these activities in close consultation with the project PI.

You will also be expected to:

  • actively read the literature relating to (and around) the project;
  • have frequent meetings with the project team and collaborators to present work in progress and discuss experiments;
  • present at national and international meetings;
  • produce high-quality work for publication in international peer-reviewed journals;
  • assist in the supervision of MSc and undergraduate students, if and when requested;
  • perform good Research Data Management;
  • plan and manage your own research activity in collaboration with others;
  • be aware of the societal discussions surrounding the management decisions in the Oostvaarderplassen, and be willing to communicate your results with the wider public with integrity.

How to Apply?

Application Method:
Ref. No.:

Application Procedure

About the Institute

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) is one of eight research institutes of the Faculty of Science at the UvA. The research at IBED aims to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. At its core lies an integrated systems approach to study biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment. IBED adopts this systems approach to ecosystems, addressing abiotic (soil and water quality) and biotic factors (ecology and evolution of plants, animals, and microorganisms), and the interplay between those. The IBED vision includes research encompassing experimental and theoretical approaches at a wide variety of temporal and spatial scales, i.e. from molecules and microorganisms to patterns and processes occurring at the global scale.

Within IBED you will be part of two research groups; the Plant-Soil-Ecology laboratory group, which will be your home group, and the BIOMAC research group for the GIS and remote sensing applications. In addition you will be connected to the management team of Staatsbosbeheer that manages the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve. The Oostvaardersplassen is part of the National Park Nieuw Land. Within this park a knowledge community for the exchange of (scientific) knowledge and experience will be set up. We expect the PhD candidate to participate in this community.

Do you want to know more about our organisation? Read here about  working at the University of Amsterdam.


About the Employer:


A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of four years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of four years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and Master students. The preferred starting date is 1 April 2022.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,434 to €3,111 gross per month, based on a fulltime contract (38 hours a week). This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

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Contact details

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