PhD student Dynamics of environmental heterogeneity and species diversity across scales

Universiteit Leiden

Datum: 2 weken geleden
Stad: Leiden, Zuid-Holland
Contract type: Voltijd
Universiteit Leiden
Vacancy number 14070 Job type Academic staff, PhD positions Hours (in fte) 0,8-1,0 External/ internal External Location Leiden Placed on 12 September 2023 Closing date 5 November 2023 54 more days to apply

The Faculty of Science and Institute of Environmental Sciences are looking for:

PhD student Dynamics of environmental heterogeneity and species diversity across scales (0.8-1.0 fte)

Vacancy number: 14070

Environmental heterogeneity (EH), covering the heterogeneity of vegetation, land cover, soil, topography and climate, is a key factor determining biodiversity patterns and ecosystem processes. We need accurate EH data to understand the mechanisms driving diversity loss and generate solutions to bend the biodiversity curve. We also need the dynamics of EH at different spatial scales to understand why the change of biodiversity differ at local, regional, and global scales.

However, a lack of accurate spatial quantification of EH and their change over time have hampered our understanding of the driving mechanisms and their application in biodiversity conservation. Recent developments in Remote Sensing (RS) techniques and the accumulation of high-resolution RS data (e.g., vegetation structure) over time offer the opportunity to quantify EH more accurately.

The goal of the project is to develop a methodological framework to accurately quantify the dynamics of environmental heterogeneity and apply it to specific ecosystems (e.g., terrestrial, aquatic, urban or agricultural systems) to further our understanding of the mechanisms shaping the spatiotemporal patterns of diversity. Moreover, a case study will be carried out to develop landscape-specific measures to maintain or restore specific species diversity (e.g., bird diversity).

The appointed candidate will work closely with a multidisciplinary team including academic staff from multiple fields (e.g., ecology, RS, and environmental sciences) and relevant PhD candidates. The candidate will learn and utilize knowledge and methodology from different fields and gain multidisciplinary skills.

Key tasks

  • Integrate multi-source data to quantify the dynamics of environmental heterogeneity (EH) across space and time
  • Analyze the relationships between the dynamics of EH and species diversity
  • Apply the knowledge to develop landscape management measures to maintain/restore targeted species communities

Selection criteria

  • A M.Sc. degree in a relevant field (e.g. ecology, environmental sciences, geo-information systems, RS, and biology,), but we also consider candidates from other scientific fields with good quantitative skills and an interest in studying the dynamics of environmental heterogeneity.
  • Quantitative analysis, programming, and statistical skills are preferred
  • Experiences in working with large datasets (e.g., RS data) or using high performance computation platforms are preferred. We also consider candidates that have basic knowledge in remote sensing data analyses and willing to further develop it.
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English and good communication skills
  • Team player and having a collaborative attitude

Terms and conditions

We offer a 1-year position with the possibility of extension to 4 years based on performance and following the pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. Salary ranges from € 2.770.- gross per month in the first year to € 3.539,- gross per month in the fourth year based on a full-time position.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career program. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.


Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Coming from abroad

Leiden University is an international work place. 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. Our Service center for international staff will help you on the way and make you feel welcome to Leiden.

For more information

Enquiries can be made to Dr. Yali Si ([email protected]).


To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to [email protected] . Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • A motivation letter (max 1 page)
  • CV (max 2 pages) including names and contact details of two references
  • A scientific writing sample (max 1 page; could be part of your thesis or reports)

Only applications received before the 6th of November will be considered. Interview will take place between November 13-17. Preferred starting date is January 1, 2024.

Research at our Institute/Faculty

The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programs. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,800 staff and almost 6,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) is positioned in the Faculty of Sciences. The core focus of CML is to perform research and education in the interdisciplinary field of Environmental Sciences. CML has two Departments: Industrial Ecology (CML-IE) and Environmental Biology (CML-EB). Presently, about 140 fte (including postdocs and PhDs) are employed at CML. CML collaborates with the TU Delft and Erasmus University in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability (LDE-CfS), Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, and other partners.

For more information, see and Information about CML can be found at

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