PhD Student “Understanding Animal Search”

The Royal NIOZ is looking for an excellent, highly motivated PhD student with a keen interest in experimental ecology and numerical modelling. The PhD student will be working in a multidisciplinary research project driven by ...

23 dagen geleden


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


The Royal NIOZ is looking for an excellent, highly motivated PhD student with a keen interest in experimental ecology and numerical modelling. The PhD student will be working in a multidisciplinary research project driven by the department of Estuarine and Delta Systems in Yerseke and the department of Coastal Systems on the isle of Texel.

The Background

The availability and accuracy of data on animal movement, partly caused by the miniaturization of tracking technologies, has increased in recent years. This evolution has led to remarkable new insights in how foraging animals search their food.

As of yet, the impact of this surge of new data on ecological theory, specifically with respect to animal population dynamics and dispersal, has been limited. An important reason is that we do not yet understand the way animals search for sparse and patchily distributed food sources.

Recent literature has addressed multi-scale (Lévy-like) search strategies as they provide a good fit to many observed movement patterns. In these strategies, organisms are thought to maximise their food encounter by alternating movement at different scales.

To better understand how and why organisms establish multiscale movement strategies we are eager to answer some crucial scientific questions: do multiscale movement strategies result from interactions with the environment or do they reflect active decisions, and are they adaptive?

The Project

In the dual project, we aim to unravel the processes underlying animal search. To do so we will manipulate the patchiness of both food and social environments in experiments with invertebrates and captive birds. These experiments are a basis for computational movement modelling, and subsequent predictions.

In our synthesis, experimental results and theoretical predictions will be compared to (existing) field data on movement of free-living organisms (birds, fishes, molluscs). We intend to link the extensive experience and data available at COS (Texel) with the more theoretical approach to animal movement at the EDS department (Yerseke).

The PhD student will work both in Yerseke and on Texel (time schedule to be decided).


Do you have a master’s degree in the field of ecology or animal behaviour and a special interest in combining experimental work with computation modelling? Like to help us understand the behaviour of searching animals?

If you answer these questions with ‘a yes’ and feel you are up for the challenge to work with some of the finest researchers in the world, we gladly invite you to apply.

Because of the international research culture at the Royal NIOZ good English oral and written skills are essential, as is a cooperative mind set and flexibility.


We offer you a fulltime position for 4 years, a yearly 8% vacation allowance, year-end bonus and flexible employment conditions. Our labour policies are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of Research Centres (WVOI). Cost of relocation and help with housing is provided by the Royal NIOZ.

Additional information

For additional information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. dr. Johan van de Koppel, dr. Allert Bijleveld, or dr. Jan van Gils.

For additional information about the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (senior HR advisor).

If you are interested in this position please visit our website and apply for this job. You will also find more information about NIOZ.

Please note: job interviews will take place on Aug 29th, 2017


Estuarine and Delta Systems in Yerseke

The department of Estuarine and Delta Systems in Yerseke (EDS, department head prof. dr. Klaas Timmermans)aims to understand how the interplay between organisms, hydrodynamics, sediment dynamics and biochemistry shapes the estuarine and delta environment, and how it affects the functioning and resilience of the diverse natural communities living there.

Central to this department is a multidisciplinary approach that combines state-of-the-art biophysical and biochemical measurements, remote sensing, and manipulative experiments with mathematical and numerical modelling to create in-depth understanding of the processes that control estuarine and delta systems.

An important additional focus in our research is on answering the question how abiotic-biotic interactions can create value for society, following the “Building with Nature” paradigm.

The department of Coastal Systems (COS, department head dr.Henk van der Veer)studies coastal marine ecosystems and their populations of fish, birds and other marine animals. Researchers in the department focus on key physical, chemical and biological processes that together determine the productivity and ecological functioning of coastal, open marine areas.

The Wadden Sea and the Dutch coastal zones in the North Sea are the main research areas of COS, but our scientists also study coastal systems in other parts of the world, including Mauritania (Banc d’Arguin), Australia (Roebuck Bay) and Oman (Barr al Hikman).


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