PhD student biodiversity monitoring

PhD student biodiversity monitoring

Published Deadline Location
24 Feb 19 Mar Leiden

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PhD student biodiversity monitoring to work on biodiversity monitoring in relation to agricultural management in Dutch peat-meadow landscapes

Job description

The European countryside has been losing biodiversity very rapidly as a result of intensive land management, particularly agriculture. Currently, new building and agricultural activities are hampered due to excessive nitrogen deposition across the country and huge investments are reserved to create biodiversity-positive, climate-adaptive, future-proof landscapes. To understand which interventions in the landscape actually work for biodiversity, biodiversity monitoring is experiencing a serious boost. Firstly, monitoring of insects, other invertebrates and microbes in soil and water now needs to be included in assessments to understand biodiversity impacts at ecosystem level. Secondly, novel molecular technologies, e.g. DNA-barcoding, metabarcoding, eDNA, bring this aim within reach of research and monitoring schemes. 

The envisioned PhD candidate will assess how biodiversity responds to specific interventions by farmers, water boards and other land-managers in Dutch peat-meadow landscapes, e.g. by raising water tables, increasing the area of herb-rich grasslands, changing the management of ditches and waterways and by adopting alternative land uses. Biodiversity responses likely start in soil or water and then percolate through to vegetation, thereby affecting plant and insect populations. You will start at the soil and water end of the response using an array of novel DNA-based molecular methods and link this to vegetation and insect responses. All in collaboration with MSc and BSc students. 

In short, core tasks will include (1) design and execution of field trials; (2) lab analysis, bioinformatics and biodiversity analyses, (3) supervision of MSc- and BSc-students, (4) be part of larger team working in the Land van Ons fieldlab and the Living Lab Alblasserwaard research linked to the Green Circle Cheese and Soil Subsidence. 

The PhD project will be carried out in the NL Biodiversity and Society Research Group of Naturalis, which focuses on biodiversity monitoring, patterns of change and solutions for the future, with strong links to the Department of Environmental Biology of Leiden University. The candidate will receive a PhD degree at the University of Leiden under supervision of Prof. Dr. Koos Biesmeijer (Naturalis and CML, promotor). Dr. Maarten Schrama (CML, co-promotor) and Dr. Krijn Trimbos (CML, co-promotor).




We are looking for a PhD candidate with:

  • a MSc degree in a relevant discipline (biology, ecology, environmental science) and a strong interest in biodiversity monitoring
  • proven experience with molecular techniques (eDNA, DNA-barcoding, Meta-barcoding) and data analysis
  • a solid understanding of quantitative research methods
  • academic excellence, as demonstrated by grade transcripts and CV
  • experience with, knowledge of and affinity with programming in R
  • experience with teaching and student supervision.

Excellent knowledge of the English language (written and verbal) is essential, as well as a scientific and critical attitude, outstanding time management and organisational skills, and the ability to work independently as well as collaboratively within the research groups. The candidate should have good communication skills and academic writing skills. 

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year to be extended with three more years after a successful 1st year.

A contract (36 hours per week) for a period of one year, to be extended with three more years after a successful first year evaluation, and a monthly starting salary of € 3,087.-. You also get an allowance for travel expenses, holiday allowance (8%) and year-end bonus (3.4%). The starting date is from 1 April 2023 onwards. The successful candidate will be employed by Naturalis in Leiden. Naturalis Biodiversity Center offers an inspiring working atmosphere with effective and efficient supervision of our PhD candidates. Our Research Coordination Office also provides ample support to our scientific staff. Our institute promotes gender equality and wants to enhance the diversity of staff members. Feel free to contact with questions about the position. For procedural questions related to the application please contact HR:


Naturalis | Faculty of Science of Leiden University

Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden is the Dutch national research institute for biodiversity and systematics. With our collection of 42 million specimens, one of the world's largest natural history collections, and our state-of-the-art research facilities we offer the (inter)national research infrastructure for species identification and monitoring (for example in the ARISE and DiSSCo projects).

We closely collaborate with many Dutch universities, research institutes, industry, and government. We host over 120 researchers including 14 academia embedded professors and 40 PhD students. We present the history of our planet, and the diversity of life on Earth, through permanent and temporary museum exhibitions, educational programmes, and online presence, with more than 400,000 visitors per year. All in all, a unique combination of science and culture in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world!

The Faculty of Science of Leiden University is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future. 

The research carried out at the Faculty is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,300 staff and almost 5,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together. 

The environmental science research in CML is organised around two major research areas: ‘Industrial Ecology’ and ‘Environmental Biology’. This makes CML one of the few institutes covering both the circular, sustainable economic use of natural resources and natural capital, as well as assessing the environmental impacts of economic activities on natural resources, biodiversity and natural capital. Presently, over 150 FTE (including postdocs and PhDs) are employed at CML. CML collaborates with the TU Delft and Erasmus University (Rotterdam) in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability (LDE-CfS).

Are you an early-career researcher looking for a new opportunity to contribute to the science that is needed for the creation of biodiversity-positive, future-proof peat-meadow landscapes? Would you like to join a friendly and open environment where you can develop your skills and learn new things? Then this vacancy may be for you. It is co-funded by Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) of Leiden University and will be embedded in the research activities of both institutes. You will experimentally test and monitor the impact of agricultural management on biodiversity, particularly the links between soil-water-plants-insects with a focus on DNA-based survey methods. Fieldwork will liaise with the Polderlab and Living Lab Alblasserwaard initiatives. 


  • PhD; Research, development, innovation
  • Natural sciences; Engineering; Agriculture
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • PA SK 20230224


Darwinweg 2, 2333 CR, Leiden

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