PhD position Exploring the carrying capacity of low-trophic aquaculture in the North sea

PhD position Exploring the carrying capacity of low-trophic aquaculture in the North sea

Published Deadline Location
2 May 12 Jun Wageningen

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Job description

Are you a theoretical ecologist, environmental engineer or applied mathematician with a strong interest in the functioning of marine ecosystems? Do you want to investigate how seaweed and bivalves can contribute to circular food systems? Are you interested in food system challenges and keen to evaluate how circular principles apply to marine food production? Are you excited about mathematical modelling of ecological communities? Then we might have a position for you in Wageningen, The Netherlands.
  • In the NWO-funded project ‘Regional innovation for circular low trophic aquaculture production in the Dutch North Sea (CircAqua)’ you will theoretically study the potential of seaweed and bivalves to contribute to marine food production from the North Sea and you will explore the interactions with the natural marine and land-based ecosystems.
  • The project is carried out by a consortium of Wageningen University, the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), and others. Aim of the project is to develop knowledge on production systems and modelling at ecosystem level to enable the mussel and seaweed sectors to innovate their production technologies and farm organization, and to scale-up nature positive circular low-trophic aquaculture production in the North Sea. The consortium involved has a strong inter- and transdisciplinary focus and will consider the interrelation between economic and environmental outcomes, and will work, together with diverse user groups such as nature conservation, towards understanding of the carrying capacity of seaweed and mussel production in coastal and offshore environments.
  • Dynamic modelling of the coastal marine food web should provide first answers on how seaweed and mussel culture affect the mass and energy balance of the entire food web and what the carrying capacity of the system is for food production. Further questions are: What are the optimal areas for large-scale shellfish culturing in the North Sea?; To what extent does the overall carrying capacity relate to nutrient run-off from land? How do large-scale cultures of seaweeds interact and compete with natural phytoplankton production and species composition and what are the cascading effects on zooplankton and fish production? How should or can a trade-off function be constructed between marine yield from mariculture of seaweeds and bivalves and natural values such as fish, bird and marine mammal abundance?
  • The modelling activities address the development of a spatially explicit community model for a shallow coastal sea, based on the Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) theory and the GOTM-GETM physical transport model.
  • The candidate is expected to finish the 4 year project by writing a PhD thesis that contains a series of scientific papers.


Wageningen University & Research


As the ideal candidate you:
  • Have a successfully completed MSc degree in (theoretical) ecology, environmental engineering, applied mathematics or a related field.
  • Show strong skills in integrating results from empirical work (e.g. surveys at sea) with elaborated mathematical modelling and theoretical thinking.
  • Are experienced in mathematical modelling of complex dynamic systems, for example size-structured populations, ecological communities or ecosystems.
  • Preferably have knowledge of Dynamic Energy Budget theory.
  • Have excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page
  • Meet all the entry requirements of the WUR PhD programme.

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.
The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. 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.
Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling. For instance under the "30% rule", certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.


Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • P1219354-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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