PhD Position-biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in food forests - NIOO-KNAW - Wageningen

PhD Position-biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in food forests - NIOO-KNAW - Wageningen

Published Deadline Location
13 May 10 Jun Wageningen

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Job description

The department of Terrestrial Ecology offers a PhD Position-Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in food forests.

Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in food forests

Project description:
Food forests are forests designed and planted to produce food, to support biodiversity and to provide key ecosystem functions, such as carbon storage. There is however very little scientific evidence on the impact of food forests on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The aim of this PhD project is to unravel how food forests affect biodiversity and carbon stabilization, with a strong focus on biodiversity and functioning of soils. The PhD candidate will explore (1) how soil community composition and diversity change during food forest development; (2) how interactions between soil biodiversity and the abiotic soil environment drive soil carbon stabilization in food forests; and (3) how changes in soil biodiversity relate to changes in aboveground biodiversity (in collaboration with project partners). The research will include fieldwork in two real-scale food forests (“field labs”) that are being established in Schijndel and Almere. The PhD candidate will coordinate and carry out sampling campaigns to monitor above- and belowground biodiversity. The PhD candidate will identify soil organisms using both classical (e.g., microscope-based) and molecular techniques (e.g., amplicon sequencing). In addition, the PhD student will perform stable isotope probing (SIP) in combination with molecular (e.g., DNA-sip) and chemical analyses (e.g., IRMS) to trace carbon in soil food web and soil organic matter. The PhD candidate will be based at the Department of Terrestrial Ecology (NIOO-KNAW). The project is part of a larger research program funded by the Dutch Topsectors “Agri & Food” and “Horticulture & Starting Materials” (TKI). It will involve close collaboration with Wageningen University, AERES and HAS Den Bosch (both universities of applied sciences), and The Dutch Foundation for Food Forests (“Stichting Voedselbosbouw Nederland”). 


Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)


We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with an MSc degree in (soil) ecology or a related discipline. Good quantitative analysis, communication, writing and presentation skills are required. The candidate should be fluent in English. Experience with (coordinating) fieldwork and molecular analyses are important assets. Knowledge of 13C probing, bioinformatics, and network analysis would be an advantage, and if not, candidates have to be willing to learn these techniques. The candidate should be able to function well in a multidisciplinary research team.

Conditions of employment

This is a temporary appointment, initially for 1 year and upon satisfaction to be prolonged for a maximum of 4 years (1.0 fte). The preferred starting date is September 2020, depending on COVID-19.

The gross salary (based on 1 fte appointment) starts at € 2.325,00 per month in the 1st year, and will gradually increase to a maximum of € 2.972,00 per month in the 4th year, scale P, Collective Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten), excluding 8% holiday pay and a year-end bonus.


Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO)

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is an Academy research institute. It conducts ecological research on land, in the ocean and in fresh water and studies how living organisms interact with one another and their environment. NIOO stimulates biodiversity and sustainability in nature and society through its worldwide network of researchers, policymakers, conservationists and other stakeholders.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2325—€2972 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2020-062


Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

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Droevendaalsesteeg 10, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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