PhD Position in Effects of Light Pollution on Plant-insect Interactions
University of Amsterdam Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

PhD Position Effects of Light Pollution on Plant-insect Interactions

Publication date 16 September 2021
Closing date 15 October 2021
Level of education Master's degree
Hours 38 hours per week
Salary indication €2,434 to €3,111 gross per month
Vacancy number 21-728

Are you interested in the effects of light pollution in nature? Then this project, which is part of the recently established BioClock consortium may be something for you. The overall aim of this consortium is to reduce the disruptive effects of light pollution on the biological clocks of humans, plants and animals. For this specific PhD project we are looking for an outstanding candidate to determine temporal effects by light at night in plant-insect interactions. Specifically, the candidate will, in close collaboration with two other PhD students, identify how light at night may cause seasonal and daily mismatches between plant flowering times and (moth) pollinators, as well as mismatches between plant defenses and herbivorous caterpillars

This PhD position is one of in total 25 positions at the core of the BioClock consortium, funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) in the framework of the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA). BioClock is a national consortium in which academic institutes, societal partners, and industry join forces to address a broad spectrum of fundamental and applied research questions on the circadian clock in modern society. As a PhD in the BioClock consortium, you’ll get the opportunity to actively participate in this multidisciplinary team effort. 

What are you going to do

Using experimentally illuminated sites and existing dark-light night sky gradients across The Netherlands, this study aims to assess seasonal and circadian shifts in food web interactions at different levels of brightness.

Key tasks for this position include:

  • monitor changes in herbivory and pollinators along urban and rural light pollution gradients;
  • assess effects of artificial light on foodweb interactions in natural and controlled settings in specified plant-insect systems;
  • measure changes in plant volatiles and physiology in relation to light pollution and effects on the herbivores and pollinators;
  • model shifts in foodweb interaction along urban and rural light pollution gradients.
  • collaborate with other researchers from the BioClock consortium with the vision to strengthen data interpretation and analysis.

What do we require

  • Strong interest in plant-insect ecology and evolution; urban ecology, impact of anthropogenic disturbance.
  • MSc degree in biology, ecology, evolution other relevant field, ideally with proven skills in producing scientific output (publications).
  • Relevant experience in plant or insect ecology or evolutionary biology, and collection and ecological interpretation of field data with experience in data analyses using R.
  • Experience with some modelling is an advantage.
  • We are looking for a team player, who takes initiative, and has a strong interest and motivation to pursue academic research.
  • Flexible attitude, keen interest in developing field skills.
  • Fluent in English and preferably also some knowledge of Dutch (or the willingness to learn this).
  • A driving licence.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of four years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of four years). This PhD position will be for 0.4 FTE at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and 0.6 FTE at Leiden University. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students. 

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,434 to €3,111 gross per month, based on a fulltime contract (38 hours a week). This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

  • Astrid T. Groot,  professor in Population and Evolutionary biology
  • T. + 31 (0)20 525 5400 and via email @


  • Peter van Bodegom, professor of Environmental Biology at Leiden University
  • T. +31 (0)71 5277486 and via email@

About us

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) is one of eight research institutes of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam. The research at IBED aims to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. At its core lies an integrated systems approach to study biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment. IBED adopts this systems approach to ecosystems, addressing abiotic (soil and water quality) and biotic factors (ecology and evolution of plants, animals, and microorganisms), and the interplay between those. The IBED vision includes research encompassing experimental and theoretical approaches at a wide variety of temporal and spatial scales, i.e. from molecules and microorganisms to patterns and processes occurring at the global scale.

Please also check out Leiden University - environmental sciences.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 15 October 2021. You can apply online by using the link below. 

Applications in .pdf should include:

  • a motivation letter and CV, including a list of publications,

Please mention the months (not just years) in your CV when referring to your education and work experience.

We will invite potential candidates for interviews in the week of 1 November 2021.

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Bioloxy


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