PhD-position in Ecology
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

VU University Amsterdam is one of the leading institutions for higher education in Europe and aims to be inspiring, innovative, and committed to societal welfare. It compromises twelve faculties and has teaching facilities for 25,000 students.

Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, department of Ecological Science
The Department of Ecological Sciences (DES) answers fundamental ecological questions regarding the relationship between organisms and their environment at the full array of hierarchical levels: from molecular ecology to ecosystem research. The department comprises a dynamic community of researchers and provides an excellent research environment with state-of-the-art facilities and high quality training.

Job/Project description
The department of Ecological Science, section Animal Ecology of VU University Amsterdam has a PhD-position available for the project

‘Caribbean island biogeography meets the Anthropocene’

Human wellbeing is directly related to the types and numbers of species that reside within ecosystems (i.e. biodiversity). Nowhere is this relationship more strong than on small oceanic islands whose economies are highly dependent on intact ecosystems and biodiversity. Yet due to the depauperate nature of island biodiversity, island ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the addition of exotic species and the loss of native species. To maintain island biodiversity, the best strategy is to prevent invasions and extinctions before they happen, but prevention requires a theoretical framework to accurately predict species invasion and extinction potential. We are searching for a PhD student to work towards providing such a framework for the Caribbean.
The PhD student will i) survey amphibians and reptiles on the Dutch Antilles, ii) construct a Caribbean invasion network using population genetic tools, iii) identify key centers and common routes taken for the many invasive species that colonize via cargo shipments, and iv) forecast exotic species establishments and native species extinctions most likely to impact ecosystem services and human wellbeing, particularly on the Dutch Antilles.

• Execute the scientific research as detailed in the project description;
• publish results in scientific journals as well as in a thesis;
• assist in undergraduate courses given within the Department of Ecological Science;
• adhere to the PhD educational programme as prescribed by the Department.

• A master’s degree, preferably with a strong interest in ecology, evolution, population genetics, and/or herpetology;
• experience with ecological field sampling genetic sampling and analysis, database management, and/or statistics;
• excellent ability to communicate in both written and spoken English;
• the ability to work independently;
• a strong motivation to pursue research in the natural sciences;
• willingness to live and work in the Caribbean and Amsterdam.

Further particulars
The initial appointment will be for a period of 1 year. After satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, it can be extended to a total duration of 4 years.

You can find information about our excellent fringe benefits of employment at like:
• a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge;
• remuneration of  8,3% end-of-year bonus and  8% holiday allowance;
• generous contribution (70%) commuting allowance based on public transport;
• discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance).

Payment will be according to the standard regulations, from € 2,083.- gross per month in the first year up to € 2,664.- gross per month in the fourth year based on a full-time appointment.

For additional information please contact: dr. M.R. Helmus ( or prof. dr. J. Ellers (

Upon request, applicants can obtain a full description of the project from dr. M.R. Helmus ( Applicants are requested to write a letter in which they describe their abilities and motivation, accompanied by a curriculum vitae and two reference names. Applications – in a single pdf-file only - should be sent to: with the vacancy number in the subject before 15 September 2014.

Any other correspondence in response to this advertisement will not be dealt with.

vacature geplaatst op 06 Sep 2014 door Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam



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