This vacancy is the result of the collaboration between Utrecht University and NIOZ. The department of Coastal Systems (COS) and the Environmental Sciences group (ES) at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development of Utrecht University are looking for a highly self-motivated PhD student with a strong interest in (coastal) ecology and bio-geomorphology, and the ability to combine and integrate empirical and theoretical work.
LOCATION: ROYAL NIOZ - TEXEL AND UTRECHT UNIVERSITY (THE NETHERLANDS)
VACANCY ID: 2020-81
CLOSING DATE: January 20th, 2021
THE RESEARCH GROUPS
The department of Coastal Systems at Royal NIOZ focuses on understanding how various levels of ecological organisation respond to environmental change through studies on eco-evolutionary patterns and processes in the coastal zone. The mission of the Environmental Sciences Group at Utrecht University is to understand interactions between global changes and ecosystem processes using an experimental and dynamic system approach linking human impacts to biotic and abiotic processes across scales.
Coastal dunes, salt marshes, and seagrass meadows combined generate a global value of over 5.5 trillion US$/year in ecosystem services (e.g. flood protection, water purification, nutrient cycling, carbon storage, tourism, fisheries, biodiversity). However, these ecosystems are rapidly degrading due to increased human and climatic pressure. Worldwide, 70% of the beaches are eroding, while 50% of salt marshes and 30% of seagrass meadows are now degraded or lost. Similar to other stressed ecosystems such as drylands, mounting evidence highlights that the establishment of coastal plants often hinges on the initiation of key biophysical feedbacks related to particular spatial patterns. For instance, recent research showed that the establishment success of seagrass and salt marsh grasses doubles if planted in clumps instead of conventional evenly dispersed designs. The larger plant patches of clumped arrangements allow facilitation processes that trigger reinforcing feedbacks between plants and their local environment. However, similar planting designs with dune grasses until now proved insufficient in pilot experiments, highlighting that biophysical dune feedbacks are still poorly understood.
This PhD project aims to unravel key biophysical feedbacks, spatial patterns, and dune-size thresholds underlying establishing dynamics of coastal dunes. This knowledge will allow to design and test new targeted restoration strategies in a step forward to combating the degradation and loss of this key ecosystem. The overarching hypothesis of the project is that dune grasses need to rapidly form embryonic dunes, sized beyond a threshold to establish and survive flooding and drought.
You will be part of a multi-disciplinary team consisting of several PhD candidates at NIOZ and Utrecht University. Within this team, you will combine high-resolution aerial imagery, field measurements, and modelling to test main hypotheses and new restoration designs. You will be hosted by the Department of Coastal Systems (COS) at the Royal NIOZ on the isle of Texel during the first year and at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development (ES group) of Utrecht University the three remaining years.
We are seeking an enthusiastic candidate with a strong interest in (coastal) ecology, with the ability to combine and integrate theoretical (e.g. concept and model development ) and empirical (e.g. field surveys) work. You must have an MSc degree (or equivalent) in ecology, bio-geomorphology, or a related field. A multidisciplinary interest, the ability to work in a group, and a strong motivation to obtain a PhD degree are essential. We highly encourage applicants from all members of our research community and of diverse background to join us.
Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). We offer a position for a period of 4 years (fulltime). We offer a position for a period of 1 year (fulltime). At the end of this first year, the employment will be extended for a fixed-term of a maximum of 4 years, if the first year evaluation held with the employee is positive. The salary is compliant to the CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes), a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus of 8,3%, flexible work arrangements and 42 days of holiday leave (fulltime position).
You may expect attractive secondary employment conditions. We offer generous relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation..
For additional information about this vacancy please contact prof. dr. ir. Tjisse van der Heide (sr. (project) scientist at NIOZ) or dr. Angeles Garcia Mayor(assistant professor atUU).
For additional information on the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (sr. HR advisor)
Find more information about the UU-NIOZ projects here.