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PhD position 'The contribution of solar parks to vertebrate biodiversity'

Do you have a passion for doing ecological research? Are you interested to find out how the energy transition and wildlife conservation could go hand in hand? …

2 maanden geleden


Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur


Do you have a passion for doing ecological research? Are you interested to find out how the energy transition and wildlife conservation could go hand in hand? Do you want to contribute scientifically to more biodiversity-friendly solar parks? Then we invite you to apply for a PhD position in our team!

Climate change and biodiversity loss threaten human society as we know it today. To combat climate change, we need to increase renewable energy production, ideally with biodiversity benefits. Solar parks are an essential part of the energy transition, and are frequently installed on former agricultural fields with low levels of biodiversity. Taking land out of production for solar parks brings opportunities to enhance biodiversity levels. However, capitalizing on win-win situations for biodiversity and sustainable energy production requires scientific information on how solar park design, composition and management influences vertebrate biodiversity.

A large consortium of solar-park developers, consultancies, governments and Wageningen University & Research aims to provide the scientific knowledge base for a new certification label that guarantees enhancement of biodiversity in solar parks. In this project, the candidate will focus on the question of how vertebrate biodiversity can be optimised within solar parks. The candidate will work together with other PhD candidates focussing on soil and insect biodiversity. To better understand differences in vertebrate biodiversity in solar parks and the surroundings, we address questions about the utilization of solar parks by avian and mammalian species, and their reproductive success. Which properties of solar parks are positively correlated with the species richness of mammals and birds, and how is this related to enhanced soil, plant and insect richness? Due to a possible increased predation risk, are the solar parks an ecological trap and therefore a 'sink' in the landscape? A combination of observational and experimental studies is planned using camera traps and GPS trackers on terrestrial mammals, bats and birds (foxes, hares, buzzards, partridges). Within the project there are ample possibilities to bring in your own creative research ideas.

We are looking for a PhD candidate who is keen to perform state-of-the-art research on opportunities that the energy transition offers to wildlife, and who is eager to constructively interact with solar park developers and managers. The ideal candidate will have experience working with birds and mammals, and various field research techniques, as well as spatial analyses. Research findings will be published in leading international academic journals, but it is also important to communicate easily accessible summaries of your results to stakeholders (e.g. government, development) and media. You will also be involved in the supervision of MSc students who perform their thesis research within the framework of the project.


  • MSc in ecology, animal sciences, conservation biology or related field;
  • team player;
  • experience with ecological field studies, notably of birds and mammals;
  • good organizational and communication skills;
  • have excellent command of English (preferably contributed to a peer-reviewed paper);
  • fluency in Dutch (or willingness to learn Dutch through an intensive course) is a plus;
  • experience in collaborating with partners from a variety of backgrounds is a plus.
  • Skills in analyses of spatial data is a plus.


Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • 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 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 € 2.395,- per month rising to € 3.061,- 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.

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. 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 16th 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. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. 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, and other issues.

Additional information

To learn more about this position, please contact Prof. dr. Frank van Langevelde; tel: +31 317 484750: e-mail: frank.vanlangevelde@wur.nl

For additional information about the process please contact Edgar Tijhuis, corporate recruiter, e-mail: edgar.tijhuis@wur.nl

You can apply up to and including 27 August 2021. Interviews are planned for first half of September. Applications must be uploaded via our webpage and include (1) a cover letter summarizing your motivation to apply, (2) your CV, including the names of two references at the end of the CV. Please do not upload any other documents.