PhD Peatland vegetation patterns: indicators for peatland functioning in a changing climate?

Gepubliceerd op
13 maart 2020
Locatie Wageningen
Reageren Klik hier om te reageren

We are looking for

Do you love science and learning new things? Are you interested in how vegetation, biodiversity and plant species composition change in response to climate? Have you ever used a flora to identify a plant species? Do you like looking at maps and Google Earth? Do you have experience in working with GIS information? Are you not afraid of drones? Then we are looking for you!!
Recent developments in drone technology and the ever-increasing spatial resolution of satellite-based remote sensing products opens up new possibilities for using spatial indicators of ecosystem change. Which spatial indicators to use is as yet unclear. Research across a range of ecosystems (drylands, marine ecosystems), has shown that spatial characteristics of vegetation units (area, shape, spatial organisation, diversity) are associated with ecosystem functions such as primary productivity and temporal stability. If similar indicators work for peatlands, if they can be linked to peatland functions, and at which timescale they respond to changes in climate is unknown and your task, as a PhD candidate to find out.
To answer this question you will develop hypotheses, write your own research proposal, extract and analyse spatial information from detailed historical vegetation maps of Irish peatlands and compare the historic spatial patterns with new, to-be-collected drone images and ground-based surveys.
Peatlands are widely spread across the northern high latitudes and serve important ecosystem functions, such as soil carbon storage, water retention and biodiversity conservation. Changes in climate and land-use affect these ecosystems with severe consequences for greenhouse gas emissions, surface albedo, water quality and species. Recognising when peatland functions are about to take a step change is essential information for climate modellers, policy makers and peatland managers. Most indicators recognised so far, need expensive or labour intensive measurements on hydrology or species composition that are not feasible for most of the overall poorly accessible peatland area.

We ask

  • a MSc degree in ecology, or a related discipline (received less than 2 years ago)
  • a great teammate who can also work well independently,
  • ability to easily communicate science in English, both orally and in writing,
  • able to organise and plan field work efficiently and have experience in setting up experimental field research,
  • being familiar with or are eager to learn plant and moss species identification
  • being familiar with statistical software (R) and spatial analyses software (ArcGis).

We offer

We offer a PhD position for a period of 48 months which is divided over two periods: a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended with 30 months if both sides are positive about the progress. Salary will increase from € 2191 gross per month in the first year up to € 2801 in the last year, based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week). 

In addition, we offer:

  • 8% holiday allowance; 
  • a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a flexible working time: the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra and thereby to build up extra leave;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment.
We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

More information

For more information about this function you can contact Juul Limpens, associate professor at PEN, e-mail:, telephone: +31 317 483178

For more information about the procedure you can contact Edgar Tijhuis, corporate recruiter, e-mail

Do you want to apply?
This can be done directly by uploading your CV and motivation letter via the application button below so that we can process your personal data with your permission. This vacancy is open until 17 April 2020. We want to plan the first job interviews soon after the closing date of this vacancy.

Equal opportunities employer
We are an employer that offers equal opportunities. We are happy to receive applications from all suitably qualified people regardless of race, gender, functional impairment, religion / belief, sexual orientation or age.

We believe that a diverse and inclusive working environment makes us a more relevant, competitive and resilient organization. Click here for more information about working at WUR with a functional impairment.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen is a centre for research and entrepreneurship. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. It is a historic university town of about 36,000 residents in the central Netherlands. The academic community hails from more than 100 countries, giving the town a lively, international feel. Our highly qualified team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

The WUR International Community page contains practical information about what we do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen.

We are

The mission of our University is to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 6,500 employees, and 12,000 students, it is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen. We have been named Best Employer in Education category 2019-2020. Click here for more information about working at Wageningen University & Research.

We are the chair group of Plant ecology and Nature conservation (PEN). PEN studies and teaches the processes and underlying mechanisms that link biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and service delivery and applies these insights to design effective conservation and management strategies for resilient ecosystems. PEN embedded in the department of Environmental Sciences (ESG) of Wageningen University. ESG provides fundamental research and academic education on our living environment: biodiverse systems, water, sustainable land management, green cities.

Solliciteer nu