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  • Job Type
    Full-time Position
  • Background
    Other Science and Tech
  • Languages
  • Experience Required
    3 - 5 Years
  • Degree Required
    • Province
    • Date Posted
      September 30,2020
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    PhD position: “Sandeels and Seals”

    For this research we are looking for a PhD candidate with a biological background and interest in fish related research. The candidate should be fit and willing to join sea going expeditions and will be responsible to collect data on the biology and ecology of sandeel.

    2020-09-23 16:27:07

    VACANCY ID: 2020 – 46
    CLOSING DATE: October 30th , 2020


    The overarching research project attempts to understand the feedbacks between human-driven changes in productivity and marine top predators and the role of sandeel. In the North Sea, sandeel is an important food source for many higher trophic predators like seals, porpoises and sea birds. Sandeel live partially buried in sandy bottoms and the large-scale development of off-shore windfarms as well as the mining of nourishment sand, might imply a loss of suitable habitat for this important fish species, with unforeseen consequences for the top predators. Therefore, this project aims to understand the main top down and bottom up processes which control the distribution of sandeels, and how changes in their distribution and abundance may ultimately impact the higher trophic levels.


    To understand the sandeels’ fine-scale spatial and temporal distribution and habitat selection, we will collect environmental and biological data on sandeel grounds. The PhD candidate will join these dedicated scientific cruises. Data collection involves taking dredge samples (, but also deployment and retrieval of acoustic fish and zooplankton profilers to study sandeel's vertical migration and its dependency of food abundance. These newly collected data will be combined with existing data on the distribution of marine predators (fish, sea birds and marine mammals) and used to understand the relative role of predation on the sandeel population and v.v..The research area is inhabited by at least two species of sandeel, of which the differences in ecology is still largely unknown. Unravelling these is also part of this PhD.


    For this research, we are looking for a PhD candidate with a biological background and interest in fish related research. The candidate should be fit and willing to join sea going expeditions and will be responsible to collect data on the biology and ecology of sandeel. These data will be used for the construction of habitat suitability models and ecosystem models to be developed by a postdoc within this project.

    The candidate will be employed at the COS (Coastal systems) department of NIOZ located at Texel. The candidate will be embedded in the research team which consists of a post doc, a technician and permanent staff. The supervising team consist of researchers from NIOZ, Wageningen University, Wageningen Marine Research (IJmuiden) , CEFAS (England) and University of St-Andrews (Scotland). Specialized tasks might take place at any of these institutes. The PhD will become part of the PERC research school.

    The project is funded through the NWO programme ‘Topsector Blauwe route’ with additional support from Rijkswaterstaat and Gemini windpark.


    • An enthusiastic, and proactive candidate who would like to work in a multidisciplinary team.
    • MSc degree in Marine Biology or Ecology.
    • Interest and or experience in fish biology.
    • Willing and able to do sea going fieldwork.
    • Have an interest in laboratory work, and statistical analyses.
    • Creative and curiosity driven and passionate about fundamental research in the context of North Sea spatial management.
    • Good communication skills especially in English (both oral and written).


    Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). We offer a position for a period of 1 year (fulltime). At the end of this first year, the employment will be extended to a fixed-term of a maximum of 4 years, if the first year evaluation held with the employee is positive. The salary is compliant to the
    CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes), a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus, and flexible work arrangements.

    You may expect attractive secondary employment conditions. We offer generous relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation.


    For additional information about this vacancy, please contact dr. Rob Witbaard (scientist at EDS) or dr. Geert Aarts (scientist at COS). For additional information about the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek, sr. HRM advisor.

    Please visit NIOZ and the departments of Coastal Systems (COS) and Estuarine & Delta Systems (EDS) here.

    Please note: (online) job interviews are foreseen in the beginning of November 2020.

    PhD position: “Sandeels and Seals”
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