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Coastal ecosystems are globally degrading, resulting in the loss of ecological functions and services such as food provisioning, coastal protection, and water purification. Ecological restoration provides a hopeful outlook to reverse these losses, aiding the regeneration of degraded ecosystems. However, the restoration of coastal foundation species such as seagrasses remains challenging, with overall low success rates, whereas degradation is still ongoing. Hence, there is an urgent need to rapidly advance coastal restoration practice. This project will contribute to developing the cutting-edge science that underpins successful restoration practice. The Dutch coastal landscape has been heavily altered by human activities. Seagrass restoration is a promising approach to enhance marine biodiversity recovery and to improve coastal multifunctionality.
In close collaboration with a project focusing on intertidal seagrass restoration in the Wadden Sea, this project will focus on the reintroduction of subtidal seagrass in Lake Grevelingen and Lake Veerse. These marine lakes have been heavily altered as the tidal movement, and thus exchange with the North Sea, was cut off in the 1970s. As a result, seagrass has gone extinct and associated faunal communities changed radically. Scientific challenges linked to the reintroduction of seagrass here include 1) identifying and disentangling biotic (e.g. food web composition) and abiotic bottlenecks for establishment and growth of seagrass, 2) modelling site suitability, 3) developing evidence-based restoration methods and 4) assessing the effects of restoration on biodiversity, ecosystem services and -functioning by combining cutting-edge field experiments, mesocosm studies and statistical and spatial models in a yearly, iterative cycle.
In this project, you will also closely collaborate with other members of our lab group and researchers working on seagrass restoration projects in the Netherlands, Europe and beyond.
The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, City of Talent. Quality has been our top priority for over four hundred years, and with success: the University is currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.
The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) is the largest faculty within the University. We offer exclusive education and research in a wide range of science and engineering disciplines, from classical disciplines such as mathematics, astronomy and mechanical engineering, to interdisciplinary fields such as artificial intelligence, pharmacy and nanoscience. Our community has an open and informal character with students and staff from around the world. Do you want to become part of it?
Research will be performed in the Conservation Ecology group at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), which comprises several other strong, internationally recognized research groups in the field of marine biology and ecology.
This PhD position is embedded within a large, governmentally funded project (by Rijkswaterstaat, the Netherlands). In this project, the University of Groningen collaborates with other consultancy and industry partners: Witteveen+Bos, the Fieldwork Company and Altenburg & Wymenga. The project aims to advance restoration efforts of eelgrass and dwarf eelgrass in the intertidal Dutch Wadden Sea and subtidal eelgrass in Lake Grevelingen in the Dutch Delta. In this project, you will closely collaborate with our consortium partners to work towards the project goals.
University of Groningen
- you hold an MSc degree (or will graduate before appointment date) in Biology, Marine Biology, Ecology or Environmental Science
- you have experience with marine fieldwork (incl. snorkelling) and designing field experiments
- you enjoy ecology on a ‘systems’ level, where you take an interest in the interaction between ecology, geomorphology, physics and chemistry
- you are a real team player, willing to work with a diverse group of researchers, project partners, technicians, and project stakeholders
- you have excellent communication skills and are motivated to disseminate results to both scientific peers and a broad audience
- you are willing to consider your research in a nature management perspective
- you have strong quantitative skills, incl. spatial analysis and ecological modelling
- you have an excellent command of the English language (oral and written)
- you have the ability to work independently in challenging environments
- you have a pro-active, inquisitive, enthusiastic, creative and self-reliant mind-set
- you are strongly motivated to obtain a PhD degree
- if Dutch is not your native language, you are very willing to learn Dutch
Conditions of employment
Fixed-term contract: 48 months.
The University offers you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:
- a salary of € 2,770 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,539 gross per month in the final year for a full-time working week
- a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance
- a full-time position (1.0 FTE). The successful candidate will be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement, and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering
The Intended PhD starting date is 1 April 2024 (a later starting date may be considered).