PhD - Managing Plant Species Translocations KU Leuven Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity Conservation Belgium


The Plant Conservation and Population Biology Research group is part of the Division of Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity Conservation of the Biology Department. The research group mainly studies the effects of anthropogenic disturbances such as soil eutrophication, forest management and habitat fragmentation on plant species diversity, plant demography and plant population genetic and genomic diversity. The objective is to understand the mechanisms behind the worldwide decline of plant (genetic) diversity, and to provide practical, science-based guidelines regarding its conservation and sustainable use.



Assistedmigration, or the deliberate translocation of individuals within (or beyond)the current distribution range of a species, has been proposed as a solution tomitigate the loss of adaptive potential caused by global change. Assistedmigration is a frequently recommended conservation strategy, as the negativeimpacts of climate warming on population dynamics at northern species rangelimits are expected to be alleviated through the introduction of pre-adaptedalleles from southern regions. Yet, the application of assisted migrationremains controversial, due to many genetic issues related to potentialoutbreeding depression.


Aiming toprovide one of the first empirical and genomic tests of the efficacy ofassisted migration in landscapes of varying fragmentation levels, this projectwill use a large geographical sampling design throughout Europe, in concertwith a quantitative genetic survey and ecologically-informed genome screening,in the True oxlip (Primula elatior).The project involves genomic analyses and gene annotations to identify singlenucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that show shifts in allele frequencies withchanging levels of fragmentation and with climate variation, together with avariety of translocation experiments.



● You are holderof an EU MSc degree in Biology or Bioscience Engineering, or another relevantfield, and have obtained at least a distinction (cum laude), and preferentiallya great distinction - or an equivalent degree of higher education.

● You have somebackground in (landscape) genomic analyses and bio-informatics (obtainedthrough following a MSc course or a Master thesis).

● You areproficient in English

● You haveexcellent knowledge of the R programming environment. Knowledge of QGIS is aplus.

● You areprepared to spend considerable time in the field collecting data

● You areprepared to take up a limited amount of teaching assisting tasks (not more thanone week per semester)



• Acompetitive full-time PhD scholarship (net scholarship of c. 2,100 €) for 4years, following a positive evaluation after the first year

•Additional benefits in terms of health insurance, reduced public transportprices, free bicycle use, access to university sports facilities, child careopportunities

•The possibility to follow academic, thematic and skills training courses at KULeuven

• Adynamic and informal work environment



For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Olivier Honnay, tel.: +32 16 32 15 32, mail: or Dr. Hanne De Kort, tel.: +32 16 37 38 25, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than January 25, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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