3 PhDs/Postdocs, Siberian vegetation ecology, Potsdam, Germany

The Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), research group 'Terrestrial Environmental Systems' in Potsdam, Germany, invites applications for three PhDs /Postdocs (Siberian vegetation ecology/genomics/ancient DNA).


The positions start 1 October 2017. The positions are limited to 3/2 years (PhDs/Postdocs).

The salary will be paid in accordance with the German Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes (TVöD Bund), salary level 13 (PhD: 66%/, Postdoc: 100%). The place of employment will be Potsdam where we offer you a multi-disciplinary, international, and fascinating professional environment with flexible working hours, state-of-the-art research equipment, and a first-rate infrastructure. As Ph.D. student at AWI you will be member of the Helmholtz Graduate School for Polar and Marine Research ‘POLMAR’ (http://polmar.awi.de) or another graduate school.

Questions will be answered by Prof. Dr. Ulrike Herzschuh (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Sigrun Gräning (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


Position 1: Vegetation ecology at the Siberian treeline Description

In the course of global warming, the boreal treeline is expected to move northward into tundra regions. However, a mechanistic understanding of the climate-vegetation relationships is still lacking for northern Siberia. In particular, the temporal characteristics of the vegetation response as well as the changes of key ecosystem characteristics (e.g. biomass) are still largely unknown. As part of this position, field-based vegetation analyses, vegetation data synthesis and linking field-data and remote sensing products will be applied to track ongoing vegetation change.

Position 2: (Palaeo-)genomics of Siberian tree taxa Description

Siberian forests are unique. Most of the area is covered by pure Larix (larch) forests that can grow on permafrost. As part of this position, genetic/genomic analyses of modern plants and of DNA preserved in sediments will be applied to identify the long-term biogeographical pattern of the different Larix taxa (and other tree taxa) as well as their specific adaptations.

Position 3: Siberian ecosystem dynamics inferred from sedimentary ancient DNA Description

Siberian ecosystems were characterized by strong changes during the Quaternary which has hitherto only partially been documented. As part of this position, past biodiversity and foodweb changes (e.g. herbivores-vegetation relationships) between glacial and interglacials will be analyzed using sedimentary ancient DNA, which allows a more complete view of past ecosystems than traditional proxies.


The successful candidates should hold a MSc or PhD degree in biology, geoscience, or related fields. Practical experience with standard molecular genetic techniques (positions 2,3), field ecological approaches (position 1) and data analyses tools (R, bioinformatic programs) are mandatory. Good English language skills are a prerequisite. A willingness to participate in field campaigns in Siberia is a requirement.


Please send your application with the standard documentation (cover letter with motivation, CV, degree certificates, abstract of the Master thesis, names and addresses of two referees) quoting the reference number 91/D/Geo-P (position 1), number 92/D/Geo-P (position 2) or number 93/D/Geo-P (position 3) by 20 August 2017 per e-mail (all documents merged into one PDF file) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About AWI

AWI aims to increase the number of women in the scientific staff and therefore encourages women to apply. Disabled applicants will be given preference when equal qualifications are present. The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family through various means. Because of our engagement in the area of work-life compatibility we have been awarded the certificate "Career and Family".