Postdoctoral Researcher In Population Biology And Biocontrol University of Amsterdam Faculty of Science – Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics Netherlands

Postdoctoral Researcher In Population Biology And Biocontrol


Publication date

          2 April 2019

Closing date

         30 April 2019

Level of education

          Master's degree


         38 hours per week

Salary indication

         €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month

Vacancy number




A Posdoctoral researcher position is available with Dr Arne Janssen, Department of Evolutionary and Population Biology within the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) at the University of Amsterdam. IBED is one of the eight research institutes within the Faculty of Science. Its goal is a better understanding of the dynamics of ecosystems at all relevant levels, from genes to climate change, using a truly multidisciplinary approach.


Project description

This postdoctoral position is part of the research projects 'Tropical predators from coconut to save Dutch tulip bulbs', and 'Biological control of the emerging pest Echinothrips americanus and other new thrips pests in ornamental crops', both financed by the NWO domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (TTW).


Pesticides have negative environmental side effects, and there is increasing demand for alternative, environmental friendly pest control methods such as biological control. The current projects focus on two pest groups in ornamentals. One of the most damaging pests in the storage of tulip bulbs is the small dry bulb mite, which hides between bulb scales where it is inaccessible for its much larger predators. Thus far, control of this pest is therefore based on the use of chemicals. We recently showed that an extremely flat predatory mite from coconut trees is promising for the control of this pest because it can enter the space between the scales, but this predator is difficult to rear. We aim to develop an environmental-friendly biological control method with another flat generalist predator from coconuts and other candidate mites, which are easier to cultivate.


Other pests in ornamentals are the thrips species Echinothrips americanus and potential new thrips pests Scirtothrips dorsalis and Thrips setosus. Although several predatory mites can feed on young stages of Echinothrips and controlled the pest on small groups of crop plants in cages, biological control with these predators in greenhouses has failed. We aim to test a new species predatory mite inhabiting the soil to control these thrips in roses and other ornamentals. The idea is to use a practice that has gained popularity among biocontrol companies and growers, which is to supply the predators with alternative food. The main advantage of this is that it allows establishment of populations of natural enemies without pests by supplying them with alternative, non-pest food. Thus, pests that invade the crop find them protected by a standing army of their enemies, and when pests are already present in part of the crop, the predators can prevent their spread by protecting uninfested plants or bulbs. Although the method of supplying alternative food has been proven successful and is gaining popularity among growers, there is hardly any research on the amount and quality of the alternative food as well as the frequency of supply. This is not a trivial matter because feeding too infrequently or too much may result in deflecting the attacks of the predators from the pest to the alternative food. Theoretical literature exists on the effects of such resource pulses (the alternative food in this case) on dynamics of single populations, but not much on the dynamics of coupled predator-pest systems.


Within the framework of this project, we are looking for a Postdoc (during 4 years), experienced with constructing detail-rich population models of predators and prey and with proven experimental experience with small arthropods. The tasks will consist of further developing continuous-time mathematical population models based on models developed in our department, and parametrizing and testing them through experiments. The goal is to assess optimal frequencies and quantities of food supply to maintain predator populations and control the pests. The research will be carried out in collaboration with a half-time postdoc who already works on control of the dry bulb mite and a PhD student to be contracted for the experimental work on thrips control.



We are looking for you if you meet these criteria:

  • a PhD in ecology, evolution or related field;
  • good modelling skills, especially in continuous-time predator-prey models of the Lotka-Volterra type;
  • experience with experimental work on small arthropods;
  • excellent written, oral communication and collaboration skills.


Further information

For additional information, please contact:

and/or take a look at:



We offer you a full-time temporary appointment of one year, that will be followed by an extension of three years after a positive assessment. The gross monthly salary will range from €2,709 to €4,274, depending on the number of years of relevant experience. The annual salary will be supplemented with 8 % holiday allowance and 8,3 % end-of-year bonus. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (Cao) is applicable. The starting date of the position on offer is flexible, but preferably within three months.


Job application

The UvA is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We value a spirit of enquiry and endurance, provide the space to keep asking questions and cherish a diverse atmosphere of curiosity and creativity.


Applications should include a motivation letter and CV, including a list of publications, description of research experience and interests and the names and contact addresses of two academic references. Please add vacancy number 19-203 in the subject field. Applications should be sent no later than 30 April 2019. Interviews are planned in May. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

Publication date

    2 April 2019

Closing date

30 April 2019

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