Post doc in Modelling Arctic Bird Areas
University of Amsterdam Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Postdoc in Modelling Arctic Bird Areas

Publication date 1 November 2021

Closing date 31 December 2021

Level of education PhD

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,836 to €4,474 gross per month

Vacancy number 21-880

Climate change is redistributing biodiversity and reshaping ecological interactions. In the Arctic, climate is warming faster than in any other region on Earth and extreme variations in temperature and precipitation are becoming more common. Breeding ranges of Arctic birds are expected to contract, and species will be confronted with altered climate variability, trophic mismatches, and changing predation and snow conditions. Currently, it is unknown whether these pressures will translate into population declines. There is thus an urgent need to assess climate change vulnerability of these species. Moreover, most of these birds are migratory, and the Netherlands bears an international responsibility because large proportions of their populations stage or winter within its borders. However, it largely remains unclear whether and how mitigation measures at stopover or wintering sites are possible.

The position is based at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) of the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. You will be embedded in the Biogeography & Macroecology (BIOMAC) lab of the Department Theoretical and Computational Ecology (TCE) of IBED. In addition, you will interact with ornithologists, ecologists, and climate modelers from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).

What are you going to do

The Netherlands Polar Programme (NPP) is a funding scheme from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) to support scientific research into and in the polar regions. The NPP wants to contribute to solutions for fundamental scientific and socio-political issues, such as the consequences of climate change. The NWO has provided nearly 1 Mio EUR in the NPP to support research on the ‘Vulnerability of Arctic migratory birds to rapid climate change’ (project duration 3/2021–2/2025). The aim of this project is to integrate existing and novel bird data at individual and population level with state-of-the-art climate model simulations and vegetation modelling to assess the vulnerability of arctic migrants to rapid climate change.

Part of this project will assess the climate change risks for Arctic migratory bird distributions. Here, the main aims are to (1) compile a comprehensive Arctic bird distribution database for stopover areas, breeding, and wintering sites; (2) model the effects of climate and other drivers on bird distributions; and (3) predict future species distributions and areas of risk under different scenarios of climate warming. Underlying data will come from compiled movement tracks of various migratory bird species, complemented with census data and other sources of species distribution data (e.g. GBIF occurrence records). Together with downscaled climate data from the most recent and accurate state-of-the-art global climate models within the framework of Climate Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6), the candidate will model the current and future habitat suitability of stopover, breeding and winter ranges of migratory Arctic birds using species distribution models (SDMs).

You will:

  • compile a comprehensive Arctic bird distribution database for stopover areas, breeding, and wintering sites;
  • model the effects of climate and other drivers on these bird distributions;
  • predict future species distributions and areas of risk under different scenarios of climate warming;
  • write high quality scientific papers;
  • contribute to teaching of the MSc course Global Ecology & Biodiversity (e.g. computer practicum using R and/or GIS);
  • help with supervising MSc and BSc students in their research projects in macroecology and global ecology;
  • present your work within IBED, at conferences, project meetings, policy events and elsewhere.

What do we require

Your experience and profile:

  • PhD in ecology, ornithology, biodiversity or a related discipline;
  • comprehensive knowledge of climate change impacts on biodiversity;
  • exceptionally strong quantitative skills and profound experience in statistical analyses and biodiversity modelling, preferably in R, incl. handling and compiling large ecological and environmental datasets, modelling and predicting species distributions, and visualizing geospatial patterns;
  • demonstrated dedication to teaching and interest in supervising students;
  • capability of working in interdisciplinary teams and willingness to interact with a multi-disciplinary team of scientists;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in English (and willingness to learn Dutch);
  • successful and strong track-record of publications.

Our offer

We offer a temporary contract for 38 hours a week, for the duration of 24 months.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,836 to €4,474 (scale 10) 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.

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 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. The position is embedded in the Department Theoretical and Computational Ecology of IBED which focuses on understanding the complexity of ecological systems by using theoretical and advanced computational approaches. A key research focus is to address how organisms cope with changing environmental conditions and how nature and life is distributed across our planet. Within TCE, the position is embedded in the Biogeography & Macroecology, a research group which aims to quantify how biodiversity and abiotic components of the Earth system vary across space and time, how they interact, and how responses of species and ecosystems to changing environmental conditions can be predicted and forecasted. The group covers a wide variety of scientific backgrounds, including ecology, data science, conservation science, physical geography, Earth science, and global change biology.


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

  • Dr. W. Daniel Kissling, Associate Professor of Quantitative Biodiversity Science
    T: +31 (0)20 525 8423

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 31 December 2021. You can apply online by using the link below. 

Applications in .pdf should include:

  • a motivation letter;
  • a 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 soon after the closing date. The candidate should start in (early) spring 2022.

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


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