PhD position “Optimizing dike-forest combinations for safety & ecological value - Spatial and temporal variability in stability & ecological values”

Nature-based flood defense (NBFD) solutions have increasingly been recognized as sustainable and cost-effective alternatives to conventional engineering approaches against climate change. Woody forest fronting a dike / sea-wall, may significantly lower the wave-loading on such dike, and thereby strongly reduce construction and maintenance costs. Moreover, it may provide ecological valuable nature, that supports both recreation and biodiversity. However, it remains unclear to which extent the nature-oriented and flood-defense services are compatible. In this project we aim to develop the fundamental insight needed to deliver practical guidelines for NBFD-design and management based on the desired objectives with respect to nature-oriented services and flood-defense services. The focus is primarily on willow trees in brackish and fresh water systems, but with interest for mangrove systems.

2019-07-08 13:27:36

LOCATION:                     ROYAL NIOZ-YERSEKE  

VACANCY ID:                 2019 – 32

CLOSING DATE:            September 20th , 2019



The vacancy is part of a larger integrated multidisciplinary research project, aimed at understanding how to apply nature-based flood defense making use of woody vegetation. In the project you will collaborate with a PhD studying wave attenuation by woody vegetation, and a post-doc focused on implementing and upscaling the research of both PhD’s.


In this PhD-position you will study if there are trade-offs between ecosystem services such as biodiversity maintenance and flood protection. You will aim to unravel how the balance between biodiversity and safety targets depend on the temporal and spatial scale, thereby developing a knowledge base for target-oriented ecosystem management. You will achieve this goal by studying the following 4 sub-questions (using the methods listed in brackets):

  • Quantify the temporal and spatial variability in mechanical properties for wetland forests (experimental)
  • Quantify the temporal and spatial variability in sediment stability for wetland forests (experimental)
  • Identify the main drivers of biodiversity for woody wetlands (data-base mining & remote sensing)
  • Identify trade-offs between flood defense & biodiversity services (using an individual-based model)

The project explicitly aims to provide the fundamental understanding needed, to move from science to practice, in implementing integrated Nature-management & Nature-Based Flood Defense.



The candidate will work in a research team that involves TU Delft, NIOZ, and Deltares, which will actively interact with Dutch industry and governmental partners. The acadmic core of the project will consist of 1 PhD position at the (TUD), this PhD position at NIOZ, and 1 Post-doc at Delft University of Technology (DUT). The project is led by dr. Bas Hofland (TUD) in collaboration with prof. Tjeerd Bouma at NIOZ, dr. Van Wesenbeeck at Deltares. At NIOZ, you will receive co-supervision from prof. Johan van de Koppel and prof. Daphne van der Wal.



We are looking for a highly-motivated candidate with an MSc degree in ecology/biology OR physical geography OR engineering. The candidate should have a keen interest in combining experimental work, using large data-bases, remote sensing and modelling. Good statistical knowledge is a prerequisite, and a good feeling for mathematics is a benefit. Candidates should be capable of planning and organizing their own work independently, to organize and carry out field experiments, and meet deadlines imposed by the project.

Most importantly, the candidate should be open and communicative, and keen on interacting with both end-users and interdisciplinary project partners. The candidate should be inspired by frontier-applied research, where fundamental knowledge is developed, in order to provide a knowledge base for managers. Excellent communication skills and an open collaborative attitude are essential for the success of the project.

Good English oral and writing skills are demanded, as the candidate must publish the findings in scientific journals and effectively communicate results to end-users.



We offer a fulltime PhD-position for 4 years, a pension scheme, a yearly 8% vacation allowance, year-end bonus, flexible employment conditions and a good operating budget for the project. Advanced training opportunities are available. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of Research Centers. Cost of relocation and help with housing is provided by Royal NIOZ.

The position will be based at the NIOZ-Yerseke, which is at commuting distance of cities like Antwerpen, Breda, Middelburg and Vlissingen.



For additional information about this vacancy, please contact the Prof. dr. Tjeerd Bouma. For additional information about the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek, sr. HR advisor.

Please visit the Department of Estuarine & Delta Systems (EDS) here.


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