PhD position Effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas in the Wadden Sea (1.0 FTE)


Faculty of Science and Engineering


University of Groningen

How effective are Marine Protected Areas in the Wadden Sea?

The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, City of Talent. Quality has been our top priority for over four hundred years, and with success: the University is currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) is the largest faculty within the University. We offer exclusive education and research in a wide range of science and engineering disciplines, from classical disciplines such as mathematics, astronomy and mechanical engineering, to interdisciplinary fields such as artificial intelligence, pharmacy and nanoscience. Our community has an open and informal character with students and staff from around the world. Do you want to become part of it?

Research environment
Research will be performed in the Conservation Ecology group at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), which comprises several other strong, internationally recognized research groups in the field of marine biology and ecology.

The research will be conducted in close collaboration with the Department of Coastal Systems (COS) of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research on Texel. The PhD-student is also expected to spend considerable time at this world-leading marine institute which hosts a broad network of marine scientists and excellent facilities.

This PhD position is embedded within the “Wadden Mosaic/Waddenmozaïek” project, which is funded by Waddenfonds, Rijkswaterstaat and the three northern Dutch provinces. The project will, for the first time, completely map habitat diversity and biodiversity of the subtidal Dutch Wadden Sea and test conservation and restoration measures that may contribute to the natural recovery of the subtidal Dutch Wadden Sea, a world heritage site. In this project, a postdoc and 4 PhD students will closely collaborate to work towards these goals. Other collaborations will involve a broad range of stakeholders in the Wadden Sea area.

Job description

How effective are Marine Protected Areas in the Wadden Sea?

The Wadden Sea is a UNESCO world heritage site, renowned for the most extensive intertidal mudflat system in the world. In the ‘Wadden mosaic’-project, we will empirically test potential conservation and restoration measures to improve subtidal habitat quality and diversity. In this subproject, you will study the effectiveness of MPAs in the Dutch Wadden Sea in supporting the recovery of subtidal benthic habitats and food webs. The subtidal Wadden Sea is heavily affected by human activities such as dredging, gas and salt mining, and bottom-disturbing fisheries (shrimp and mussel fisheries). A number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been established over the last decades, with the aim to exclude bottom-disturbing human activities, potentially allowing the development of a more diverse assemblage of bottom-dwelling species. In this research project, you will empirically investigate whether MPAs do indeed allow the recovery of benthic diversity, habitat structure and the food web after controlled fisheries disturbance experiments. Such experiments will be conducted in MPAs with different scales (spatial effects) and historical background (temporal) conditions. Your research will result in clear recommendations for nature managers regarding the importance of spatial and temporal scales for species and habitat recovery.


• you hold a MSc degree (or will graduate before appointment date) in Biology, Marine Biology, Ecology or Environmental Science
• you have experience with fieldwork and designing field experiments
• you are a real team player, willing to work with a diverse group of researchers, technicians and project stakeholders
• you have excellent communication skills and are motivated to disseminate results to both scientific peers and a broad audience
• you are willing to consider your research in a conservation perspective
• you have strong quantitative skills
• you have an excellent command of the English language (oral and written)
• you have the ability to work independently in challenging environment
• you have a proactive, inquisitive, enthusiastic, creative and self-reliant mind-set
• you are strongly motivated to obtain a PhD degree
• if Dutch is not your native language, you are willing to learn Dutch.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

The University offers you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:
• a salary of € 2,325 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 2,972 gross per month in the last year for a full-time position
• a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
• an 8.3% year-end bonus.

How to apply
Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, you may apply for this position until 30 September 11.59 pm / before 1 October 2019 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

The job interviews will take place on 7, 8, or 9 October 2019

Please add the relevant vacancy number as indicated above in your application and include a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and contact information of three academic referees.

The University of Groningen is an equal opportunity employer and we value diversity at our organization. We do not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the NVP Recruitment Code and the European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers from the European Commission.

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Job Application

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Laura Govers

Han Olff

Tjisse van der Heide

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 219430

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