PhD position: “Quantifying North Sea reef functions and services”

The Royal Netherlands of Sea Research is looking for a highly motivated PhD student with a strong interest in (marine) ecology and ecosystem services, and the ability to combine and integrate ecological experiments and surveys, with strong statistical skills.

2020-01-30 12:31:41

LOCATION:                         ROYAL NIOZ – LOCATION TEXEL

VACANCY ID:                     2020 – 004

CLOSING DATE:                March 2nd 2020



Biogenic reefs – hard structures formed by living organisms such as oysters, mussels, tubeworms and corals – are vital components of marine systems that provide important ecosystem services. Over the last centuries, many biogenic reefs have been lost worldwide, including in the Dutch North Sea. Although these reef losses likely seriously impacted the North Sea ecosystem, it remains unknown how this loss has affected ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services (e.g., biodiversity and fisheries enhancement). Currently, several initiatives aim to restore these valuable reefs, with main focus on oysters. The project “North Sea Reef Vitalisation for Ecosystem Services (ReViFES) aims to pave the way for a novel “profitable nature-based reefscape” concept that enables restoration of ecological valuable North Sea reefs, while simultaneously providing a scientific base for sustainable aquaculture and fisheries in its surroundings. In this PhD, you will be responsible for quantifying North Sea reef ecosystem functions and ecosystem services.



The vacancy is part of the larger integrated multidisciplinary ReViFES project, in which several institutes and disciplines collaborate. Within ReViFES, you will work on obtaining a mechanism-based understanding of what services natural and restored (oyster)reefs can deliver and how these can be optimized. The project will focus on the European Flat oyster as it used to be the primary reef-building species in the North Sea. However, other reef-forming species (e.g. horse mussels, ross worms) that still form reef structures on the North Sea floor today will also be investigated.

By comparing remaining flat oyster-dominated reefs, with reefs devoid of flat oysters and bare sediments, you will investigate:

  1. How reefs affect ecosystem functions and services locally, in terms of biodiversity, habitat diversity, sediment properties and carbon and nutrient storage.
  2. The spatially extended reef effects on the sediment and benthic community.
  3. The flat oyster spill-over effects in terms of larval supply for commercial aquaculture.
  4. Spill-over effects for commercially interesting fishable species.
  5. How food webs are modified by shellfish reefs, and how this in turn affects commercial species and overall biodiversity, by reconstructing the food web in a spatially explicit manner using stable isotope analysis.



We are seeking an enthusiastic candidate with a strong interest in (marine) ecology, understanding ecosystem functioning, and ecosystem restoration for ecosystem services. The candidate will be doing sea-going research. This requires good organizational skills. The candidate will be challenged to integrate empirical work (e.g. surveys at sea) with elaborated statistical analyses and theoretical thinking (e.g. concept development, isotope mixing models). You must have an MSc degree (or equivalent) in ecology, or a related field.

The vacancy is part of the larger integrated multidisciplinary ReViFES project, in which several institutes and disciplines collaborate. The candidate must hence have a multidisciplinary interest. Good communication and social skills are needed to collaborate in a group of scientists and to report back to the end-users that are actively involved in the project, and awaiting the results. The candidate is expected to finish the project by writing a PhD thesis that contains 4 to 5 scientific papers..



Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). 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, and flexible work arrangements.



The research is an active collaboration between the NIOZ-departments of COS (Coastal Systems on Texel) and EDS, where the 2 promotors work, and the department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management at Wageningen University where the co-promotors work. 

For additional information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. dr. Tjisse van der Heide and/or 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 here.

Please note: job interviews are foreseen for March 18, 2020 at NIOZ on Texel.


Share on:
Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

Share with a friend:
Mail a friend