PhD Position in Orientation Behaviour of Migratory Bats
Carl Von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

PhD Position in Orientation Behaviour of Migratory Bats

A PhD position in orientation behaviour and sensory biology of bats is available at the Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Oldenburg and affiliated with the DFG collaborative research centre SFB 1372 “Magnetoreception and Navigation in Vertebrates: From Biophysics to Brain and Behaviour” hosted by the University of Oldenburg. Running for 3 years, the PhD position will be embedded within a larger collaborative group comprising 16 principle investigators, 5 postdocs and 16 PhD students mainly based at University of Oldenburg but with partners at Institute of Avian Research Wilhelmshaven, Ruhr University Bochum, Caesar Bonn, University of Oxford, England, and Weizmann Institute of Science Tel Aviv, Israel. You will become an integral part of the bat navigation research team supervised by Dr. Oliver Lindecke, working closely together in the field with collaborators from Bangor University, Wales, the Ornithological Laboratory of Riga University, and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research Berlin on related questions. You will have access to a very wide range of superb modern equipment, techniques and expertise. You will be further provided with exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and academic networking, together with structured training, scientific exchange and early career support programs. More details about the SFB can be found at The aim of the PhD project is to conduct extensive field and laboratory experimentation with European migratory bats and to investigate the mostly discussed hypotheses of magnetoreception and vision by testing predictions related to the magnetic-particle-based and/or radical-pair mechanism in bats.

The overall goal of this research project is to advance the field of mammal navigation and vertebrate sensory behaviour with bats as a model organism. Behavioural and physiological principles and elements that are central to the many sensory processes (including magnetoreception, vision and hearing) enabling mammalian long-range movement and orientation are in focus.

About the Lindecke lab:

Our research focuses on bat movement ecology and sensory biology. We have made significant contributions to the field of bat migration by addressing questions of environmental cue perception relevant for long-range flights (1,2). By introducing new experimental practices that enable measures of bat movement decision-making and directional behaviour (2,3,4), we aim at understanding the physiological function and role of orientation processes during orientation and navigation, thereby hoping to inform mammal conservation practice of the 21st century by providing a conservation physiology perspective (5,6). Ongoing work includes magnetoreception in migratory bats and the involvement of the visual apparatus (7). To date, we are the only research group dedicated and experienced in investigating the long-range sensory biology (magnetic sense) relevant for navigation behaviour of migratory mammals, specialising on bats.

References: 1. Lindecke et al. (2015) Biol Letters 11, 20150525; 2. Lindecke et al. (2019) Curr Biol, 29, 1369-1373.e3; 3. Lindecke et al. (2019) J Zool 308, 56-65; 4. Schabacker et al. (2021) Sci Rep 11, 8174; 5. Voigt et al. (2018) BioScience 68, 427-435; 6. Voigt et al. (2018) Ecol Evol, 8, 9353-9361; 7. Lindecke et al. (2021) Commun Biol 4, 522

Main responsibilities

  • setting up and conducting field experiments abroad (Baltic Sea region, and potentially in Germany) during three years in migration seasons of bat species
  • analysing tracking data acquired with various modern techniques and on different spatial scales (lab and open field)
  • statistical analyses of complex and large data sets (including circular data),
  • tight collaboration with other scientists of the collaborative research centre and team work with other group members in the field
  • writing scientific publications and communicating results to an international audience

Applicant’s profile

The doctoral candidate will study bat navigation in an ecological context with a focus on long-range spatial orientation and the physiological underpinnings. Possible research foci include the behavioural, sensory, ecological, molecular and/or genetic mechanisms that enable bats to navigate over long geographical distances. The candidate must contribute to the institute’s key research area “Orientation and Navigation in Vertebrates”. Candidates with a proven track record in working with key aspects of navigation in vertebrates will therefore be preferred. However, candidates with a background in insect navigation and ecology (of migratory insects) may also be considered.

We seek a highly motivated student with an academic degree (Master or Diploma) in the life or environmental sciences, ideally with specialization in behavioural ecology, mammalogy, orientation/navigation, or biopsychology/neurosciences. Interest in orientation/navigation, sensory and movement ecology questions are essential. Experience with fieldwork, preferably including marking and/or tracking of individuals, especially bats, is desirable but candidates with experience in other taxa are very welcome to apply. A high motivation for intensive field work during migration seasons and at night are essential. Working both independently and creatively and as part of a team is necessary, as are excellent oral and written communication skills in English. A driver’s license is beneficial. Experience with statistical software, e.g. R, (preferentially including modelling and programming) is advantageous.

A deep and broad interest in biology, openness to multi-disciplinary and advanced technologies, self-driven working attitude and good team working skills will be relevant, as will be a strength in improvisation capacity during field research if this becomes necessary.

The open-minded candidate we are looking for should be open to expand from initial research into laboratory studies (e.g. histology, genetics) if findings strongly suggest that a more detailed insight can be gathered only by a multi-disciplinary approach.


The position is available for 36 month and paid according to TVLE13 ( with 65% of the regular work hours. The place of work will be at the Campus Wechloy of the University of Oldenburg. The candidate will deeply integrate into a joint curriculum within the host institute and participate in seminars and infrastructure-related tasks. Collaborations exist with the Animal Navigation Group at Bangor University (UK) and Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Berlin) that will lead to co-working of the applicant with their members during field research.


We offer:

  • Opportunity to do cutting edge science in a supportive and collaborative team with international members
  • Fieldwork abroad and/or in Germany
  • Work on existing datasets of wild bats in case of further interest and relevance, e.g. in response to unexpected interruptions such as the recent Covid-19 pandemic
  • State-of-the-art tools and facilities, and access to wild bats in numbers that enable unrestricted addressing of research questions
  • Participation in the Collaborative Research Centre SFB1372
  • Participation and exchange on research projects in a weekly seminar together with RTG 1885.
  • Enrolment in the local graduate school with a large offer of soft and scientific skills courses, mentoring programs etc.

Application and Selection Procedure

Applicants must send a single pdf file via e-mail containing a cover letter with statements of motivation about the position and for the field of research, CV, a list of any existing published preprint or scientific article, the names and addresses of at least one and up to three professional referees, and copies of academic transcripts of BSc and MSc certificates by 1 July 2021to . We will start looking at the applications as soon as they are submitted and will consider further applications until the position is filled.

Interviews will be held after the closing date (01.07.2021) and may include a video interview.

The University of Oldenburg is dedicated to increasing the percentage of female employees in the field of science. Therefore, female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply. In accordance with Lower Saxony regulations (§ 21 Section 3 NHG) female candidates with equal qualifications will be preferentially considered. Applicants with disabilities will be given preference in case of equal qualification.

For further questions contact Dr. Oliver Lindecke per e-mail or phone (+49 4417 9838 06). For details on the application process please refer to [link Job Offer Webpage UOL].

Dr. Oliver Lindecke

Bat Navigation Research Lab

Research Fellow at the Collaborative Research Centre for “Magnetoreception and Navigation in Vertebrates: From Biophysics to Brain and Behaviour”

University of Oldenburg

Faculty V, Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences

AG Neurosensorik/Animal Navigation, IBU

Carl-von-Ossietzky-Strasse 9-11

D-26129 Oldenburg


Phone: +49 4417 9838 06


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