Postdoc “Innovative approaches to unravel the role of micro-phytobenthos in intertidal habitats”

The Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems (EDS, department head: prof. dr. Klaas Timmermans) is looking for an excellent, highly motivated scientist with a keen interest in innovative approaches to study the functioning of intertidal microphytobenthos.

VACANCY ID:         2017-044
CLOSING DATE:    JUNE 27th, 2017



The department of Estuarine and Delta Systems (EDS, NIOZ-Yerseke) aims to understand how the interplay between organisms, hydrodynamics, sediment dynamics and biochemistry shapes the estuarine and delta environment, and how it affects the functioning and resilience of the diverse natural communities living there.

Central to our department is a multidisciplinary approach that combines state-of-art biophysical and biochemical measurements, remote sensing, and manipulative experiments combined with mathematical and numerical modelling to create in-depth understanding of the processes that control estuarine and delta systems.

An important additional focus of our research is how abiotic-biotic interactions can create value for society, following the “Building with Nature” and “Blue Growth” paradigms.



Microphytobenthos (i.e. benthic microalgae) play a vital role in estuarine carbon cycling and fuel the estuarine food web as a result of their primary production. In turbid waters, primary production of microphytobenthos may depend on the duration they are emerged during low water, and on the weather. Different species of algae may have different life traits.

For example, the microalgae found in fine sediments can migrate vertically in the sediment. They also influence the sediment surface, by stabilizing the sediment and trapping fine sediment in a positive feedback loop. On the other hand, erosion (e.g., during storms), and grazing by animals may influence the biomass of microphytobenthos and production.

Because of the highly dynamic nature and spatial heterogeneous distribution of microphytobenthos, their role in estuarine foodwebs is poorly understood and difficult to quantify. In this project, the functional role of microphytobenthos will be elucidated and better quantified, using new sensors and technologies.

The spatial heterogeneity and temporal dynamics of microphytobenthos biomass will be assessed using remote sensing (e.g., spectral measurements on the ground, from a drone and from satellite sensors), and linked to, e.g., surface conditions and sediment dynamics.

The primary production of the microphytobenthos will be measured in the field using various sensors and techniques (e.g., PAM, oxygen exchange techniques, FRFF). Laboratory (mesocosm) experiments will be conducted to unravel the relationships.

This research has a strong integrative and multidisciplinary character, benefiting from cooperation within the EDS department.



We are looking for a Postdoc with a keen interest in experimental estuarine ecology, and the role of microphytobenthos therein.

Do you have extensive experience in experimental work and experience with optical and/or remote sensing and/or photosynthesis techniques? Good English oral and writing skills, and a cooperative mindset? In that case, we would very much like to know more about you.



We offer you a fulltime position for 2.5 years, a pension scheme, a yearly 8% vacation allowance, year-end bonus and flexible employment conditions. Our labour policies are based on the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement of Research Centers (WVOI). Cost of relocation and help with housing is provided by the Royal NIOZ. The job is at our research centre in Yerseke, which is at commuting distance of cities like Antwerp, Breda, Middelburg and Vlissingen.

For additional information about this vacancy, please contact dr. Daphne van der Wal or dr. Jacco Kromkamp (senior scientists). 

For additional information about the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (senior HR advisor).


Please note: job interviews will take place on July the 10th, 2017.

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