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Postdoc Position - NIOO-KNAW @Wageningen & NIOZ @Texel

The department of Animal Ecology is offering a postdoc position: Breeding phenology and success of migratory birds confronted with rapid climate change in the …

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Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
30 uur


The department of Animal Ecology is offering a postdoc position: Breeding phenology and success of migratory birds confronted with rapid climate change in the Arctic.

Project description:
Due to its favorable location, the Netherlands harbours at times large numbers of migratory birds and bears an international responsibility to accommodate them. Many of these birds spend the summer above the Arctic circle. Because climate changes faster in the Arctic than elsewhere, the question arises whether these birds are under threat. In a project, granted by the Netherlands Polar Programme of NWO to a consortium led by NIOO, we combine the latest climate models with existing and new data on migratory birds and their food web in the Arctic. We assess the vulnerability of these migratory bird populations to climate change, and which mitigation measures are possible outside the breeding range. See https://www.nwo.nl/en/news-and-events/news/2020/07/55-million-euros-for-polar-research-in-netherlands-polar-programme.html.

Studying migration timing has now become possible by using an extensive tracking database, covering nine bird species (waterfowl and waders) for which we have multiple-year tracking data. The postdoc will identify how migration phenology can cause mistimed reproduction, and will quantify the relative importance of knock-on effects of mistiming on fitness for Arctic migratory birds.

The postdoc will link onset of fueling and migration departure from wintering and staging sites to climatic variables along the flyway to assess which environmental cues migratory species currently use to time their migration. Using climate change scenarios from other project partners, the postdoc will investigate how current correlations of these cues to the optimal timing of reproduction may change in a warming Arctic.

The postdoc will use these tracking data to extract key phenological events like the onset of fueling, departure, arrival and nest initiation, and assess whether timing and duration of these events is flexible. To what extent reproduction is currently mistimed can be seen by linking this with results from other partners in the project pinpointing the optimal timing of reproduction. Using fuel deposition rates on staging sites, flight speed and energetic costs of migration, the minimal time needed to complete migratory fueling and migration can be calculated, and therefore the potential constraints which limit advancements in timing.

The effect of mistimed reproduction on fitness is quantified by subsequently measuring reproductive consequences of variation in hatching dates both within and among years. At selected Arctic study sites, the postdoc will measure, in collaboration with other project partners, the consequences of reproduction phenology on fitness, by analyzing hatchling survival of four focal species (two goose species and two wader species) as a function of hatching date and timing of food availability.


Within this consortium, we are offering a postdoc position. We are looking for an all-round ecologist, with a PhD in preferably bird migration ecology, with demonstrable analytical, organizational and field work skills. The postdoc position is three years in total, equally divided among the NIOO in Wageningen and the NIOZ on Texel. 


This is a temporary appointment for 1,5 year (18 months) at the NIOO-KNAW Animal Ecology Department for 0.8 FTE (30,4 hours per week) and 1,5 years (0.8 FTE) after that at NIOZ.

Salary depends on training and work experience. The gross salary starts at € 3.353,- (scale 10.4) per month  based of a full-time appointment, Collective Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten), excluding 8% holiday pay and a 8,3% year-end bonus. We offer an extensive package of fringe benefits.

Additional information

Prof. Bart Nolet (b.nolet@nioo.knaw.nl) or Dr. Jan van Gils (jan.van.gils@nioz.nl).

Netherlands Institute of Ecology, NIOO-KNAW in Wageningen (1st 1.5 y) and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) on Texel (2nd 1.5 y).

We will not respond to any supplier enquiries based on this job advertisement.