Postdoc Geospatial Ecology

Postdoc Geospatial Ecology

Published Deadline Location
14 Mar 12 Apr Amsterdam

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Job description

Are you fond of handling and combining large biodiversity and environmental datasets? Do you want to contribute to understand and forecast how ecosystems are impacted by global change? Are you enjoying to work in an interdisciplinary research setting bridging ecology, biodiversity science and Earth Observation with informatics, computer science, and environmental management?

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) at the University of Amsterdam is looking for an ambitious Postdoc in Geospatial Ecology who can contribute to the building of Digital Twins of ecosystems. The position is part of a larger project that develops LTER-LIFE, a novel large-scale research infrastructure for studying and predicting how changes in climate and other human-induced pressures affect ecosystems and biodiversity.

Your work will be embedded in the Biogeography & Macroecology (BIOMAC) lab of the Department Theoretical and Computational Ecology at IBED, and involve collaborations with other consortium partners from Dutch research institutes and universities (e.g. Netherlands Institute of Ecology NIOO-KNAW, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research NIOZ, and Wageningen University & Research WUR). You will also interact with data scientists, developers and software engineers from other project partners (e.g. Netherlands eScience Center, SURF, DANS-KNAW, NDFF, NLBIF, Datahuis Wadden).

To truly predict how ecosystems and landscapes will respond to current and future global change, we need to combine environmental with biological information and integrate diverse and heterogenous datasets. The LTER-LIFE project will do this by building a user-friendly and secure, cloud-based platform for digital modelling and simulation, and by providing Virtual Research Environments to foster scientific collaboration.

The infrastructure will allow scientists to investigate multiple scenarios by integrating (1) long-term data on plants, animals, and the environment, (2) profound ecological knowledge on species and their interactions, (3) advanced modelling that applies Big Data tools on ecological datasets, and (4) high-performance computing and data science techniques. Scientific use cases will centre around developing Digital Twins of ecosystems for the Wadden Sea and the Veluwe.

What are you going to do?
You will support the geospatial environmental characterization of biodiversity data for ecological analysis and modelling in a Digital Twin virtual research environment. In this context, you will analyse and aggregate diverse geospatial datasets from remote sensing or modelled environmental data, such as satellite remote sensing products from Copernicus, climate and land cover maps, habitat types, nitrogen and pesticide deposition, aerial photographs, micro-meteorological and air quality data, human infrastructures, geomorphology, salinity etc.

A key focus will be the development of environmental annotation tools that allow users to specify the spatial and temporal resolution and buffering of environmental characterizations that are relevant for the biodiversity data (e.g. inventories, species occurrences, digital sensor observations). You will be involved in the work package of the LTER-LIFE project that is dedicated to mobilizing and integrating data and making them FAIR for modelling and Digital Twinning virtual research environment (WP4).

You will interact with other work packages, especially those that develop and manage the scientific use cases in the Wadden Sea and the Veluwe (WP2), design and develop the infrastructure services (WP3), develop models and computer codes (WP5), and organise capacity building and training for ecologists and environmental scientists (WP7).

Tasks and responsibilities:
  • Handling and processing large geospatial and environmental datasets;
  • Prototyping environmental annotation tools for biodiversity data;
  • Working with ecologists, stakeholders from national parks and NGOs, database managers, data scientists and software engineers to integrate biodiversity and environmental data;
  • Contributing to building a catalogue and inventory of relevant biotic and abiotic datasets and their existing metadata;
  • Working with computer scientists, eScience engineers and stakeholders to establish digital connections to various external data platforms and repositories;
  • Writing publications in peer-reviewed journals to present the developed tools or analytical results;
  • Engaging in training courses for data handling, processing and visualisation.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


Your experience and profile:
  • A PhD in ecology, ecological informatics, geoscience, environmental science or a closely related field;
  • Interest, passion and experience with biodiversity and environmental data;
  • Exceptional quantitative skills and profound experience in scripting/programming (e.g. R, Python) and handling of diverse datasets;
  • Willingness to work in a multidisciplinary team (ecology, computer science; software engineering, remote sensing, environmental management);
  • Proficiency in scientific writing;
  • Ability to speak and communicate in English at an academic level.

Conditions of employment

We offer a temporary employment contract for 38 hours per week for a period of 12 months, with the possibility to the extend the contract for another 36 months upon a positive evaluation of your performance. The preferred starting date is as soon as possible.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 3,226 to € 5,090 (scale 10). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. The UFO profile Researcher, level 4 (Post doc Researcher) is applicable. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment at Science Park we offer you multiple fringe benefits:
  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;
  • multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • multiple courses on topics such as leadership for academic staff;
  • multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses;
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;
  • partly paid parental leave;
  • the possibility to set up a workplace at home;
  • a pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • the possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • help with registration at UvA- Housing for a studio or small apartment when you’re moving from abroad.

Are you curious to read more about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits, take a look here.


Faculty of Science

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics is one of eight research institutes of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam. The research at IBED aims to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. At its core lies an integrated systems approach to study biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment. IBED adopts this systems approach to ecosystems, addressing abiotic (soil and water quality) and biotic factors (ecology and evolution of plants, animals, and microorganisms), and the interplay between those.

The IBED vision includes research encompassing experimental and theoretical approaches at a wide variety of temporal and spatial scales, i.e. from molecules and microorganisms to patterns and processes occurring at the global scale. The University of Amsterdam has excellent high performance computing facilities. Furthermore, IBED has a dedicated computational support team with specialized knowledge of bioinformatics, (geo)database management and scientific programming. IBED also works with non-academic partners to deliver transdisciplinary science for society.

The position is embedded in the Department Theoretical and Computational Ecology (TCE) of IBED which focuses on understanding the complexity of ecological systems by using theoretical and advanced computational approaches. A key research focus is to address how organisms cope with changing environmental conditions and how nature and life is distributed across our planet.

Within TCE, the position is embedded in the Biogeography & Macroecology (BIOMAC) lab, a research group which aims to quantify how biodiversity and abiotic components of the Earth system vary across space and time, how they interact, and how responses of species and ecosystems to changing environmental conditions can be predicted and forecasted. The group covers a wide variety of scientific backgrounds, including ecology, data science, conservation science, physical geography, Earth science, and global change biology.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • Postdoc
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €3226 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 12763


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Science Park 904, 1098XH, Amsterdam

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