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  3. PhD position: ““Vegetation development in response to salinity intrusion in tidal wetlands”

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PhD position: ““Vegetation development in response to salinity intrusion in tidal wetlands”

The department of Estuarine & Delta Systems (EDS) of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Royal NIOZ) is looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate with an MSc degree in ecology/biology or physical geography or civil engineering.

ongeveer 2 maanden geleden


Korringaweg, Yerseke, Zeeland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
40 uur


The Project
Increased salt intrusion due to climate change and man-made interventions now poses a major threat to estuaries worldwide. In response to this threat, the SALTISolutions program will develop a Virtual Delta, a set of advanced models based on solid experimental data to predict the effects of future changes and support decision making.
It will address both natural and manmade mitigation measures, in which nature-based solutions for salt intrusion are an important component. The project in which this PhD position is embedded focusses on natural processes for nature-based solutions.

In this PhD project we will study how salt intrusion affects the development and dynamics of wetland ecosystems along estuarine boundaries. Wetland ecosystems can be strongly affected by salt intrusion by altering species composition (Schwarz et al 2018) and modifying key species interactions (Silliman et al 2015), both in existing wetlands as well in managed realignment projects that make space for new wetland development. This is a two way-process, as wetland development may in return affect salt intrusion, in particular when morphological development affects the efficiency of nature-based solutions such as managed realignment.

The Vacancy
In this PhD position, you will study how salt intrusion affects freshwater tidal wetlands in terms of biodiversity and eco-morphological functioning. To understand the potential loss of wetland species, you will study the sensitivity of key wetland plants to short vs. long exposure to saltwater inundation in controlled experiments. You will use the experiments to develop simple biogeomorphic mathematical models. With these models, you will study how loss or replacement of wetland plants affect creek development of wetlands, in turn affecting the degree and impact of salt intrusion in the estuary. This feedback will be investigated in wetlands with different tidal regimes, and for newly establishing wetlands in managed realignment projects, in collaboration with other project collaborators.


We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with an MSc degree in ecology/biology or physical geography or civil engineering. The candidate should have a passion for combining simple experimental work with the modelling of ecological-physical interactions. A good understanding of statistics and mathematical modelling (differential equations to describe growth, etc) is a prerequisite. Candidates should be capable of planning and organizing their own work independently, to organize and carry out field experiments, and meet deadlines imposed by the project.

Most importantly, the candidate should be open and communicative, and keen on interacting with both users and interdisciplinary project partners. The candidate should be inspired by frontier-applied research, where fundamental knowledge is developed, in order to provide a knowledge base for managers. Excellent communication skills and an open collaborative attitude are essential for the success of the project.

Good English oral and writing skills are demanded, as the candidate must publish the findings in scientific journals and effectively communicate results to users.

The candidate will be positioned at the NIOZ, and work in a research team that involves University of Twente, TU Delft, and many other partners within the SALTI-Solutions program and will actively interact with Dutch industry and governmental partners. The academic core of this project on Natural processes of Nature Based SaltiSolutions within the SaltiSolutions Program will consist of 1 PhD position at NIOZ and a postdoc and two PhD positions at University of Twente. At the NIOZ, the PhD student will be embedded in an active group of experimental and modelling PhD-students and postdocs. Regular research stays of 1 week are foreseen at the Water Engineering and Management group of the University of Twente.


Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). We offer a position for a period of 1 year (fulltime). At the end of this first year, the employment will be extended to a fixed-term of a maximum of 4 years, if the first year evaluation held with the employee is positive. The salary is compliant to the
CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes), a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus, and flexible work arrangements.

You may expect attractive secondary employment conditions. We offer generous relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation.

The position will be based at the NIOZ-Yerseke, which is at commuting distance of cities like Antwerpen, Breda, Middelburg and Vlissingen.

Additional information

Please apply online through the 'Apply' button.

For additional information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. Johan van de Koppel, sr. scientist.
For additional information about the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek, sr. HRM advisor.

Please note: job interviews are foreseen for October 2020.