Early-Stage Researcher (ESR)/PhD position as part of the MSCA ETN '4D-REEF'


(4 years)

Are you fascinated by the biodiversity of coral reef ecosystems, and how this has changed in the past and might change in the future? Are you accurate and fast in processing data? Do you have the drive to communicate and connect to different kinds of people all over the world? Is travelling for fieldwork a welcome addition to your daily job? We are looking for an Early Stage Researcher working on the following project:

Temporal dynamics in benthic foraminifera assemblages in Holocene to modern turbid coral reefs: integrating morphological and molecular techniques.

Host: Marine Biodiversity Research group, Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Leiden, The Netherlands)

Supervisors: Dr Willem Renema (Naturalis), Dr Owen Wangensteen (University of Tromsø)

Together with corals and coralline algae, large benthic foraminifera are the main calcifiers in coral reef ecosystems. Due to their abundance, small size and sensitivity to changes in water quality they are ideal model organisms to independently assess the environmental conditions in which coral reefs grow. Their calcite tests have a high fossilisation potential, which make them extremely suited to reconstruct past environmental change, and place current reef condition in a historical perspective. Data covering the past 30 years from the Spermonde Archipelago (Southwest Sulawesi) are available, and in this project we will use morphological and NGS molecular techniques to quantify benthic foraminiferal communities in relation to environmental conditions. These data can be used to assess changes in environmental conditions. We aim to extend this record by using ancient eDNA from sediment cores.

Objectives of the individual project

  1. Acquisition of expertise with respect to molecular and morphological techniques to identify large benthic foraminifera. Specific question: Can we use DNA techniques to assess LBF species composition and (relative) abundance?
  2. Design and execute (together with ESR3) a standardised sampling network to quantify species richness and where possible abundance in reef ecosystems on the Spermonde Shelf (Southwest Sulawesi). Specific question: Are species richness patterns observed in fossilisable taxa representative for total species richness over the carbonate shelf
  3. Gain experience in coring, describing and subsampling reef sediments, including exploring the opportunities for ancient DNA analysis. Specific question: How did community composition of LBF change over the past 1000-2000 years

Expected results

This project will allow comparison between environmental changes in modern day reefs and results observed in the fossil record. By including temporal variability, we expand 40 year existing time series, bridging the gap from Holocene reef dynamics to conservation palaeobiology.

More information about 4D-REEF is available at: https://www.naturalis.nl/en/4d-reef


University of Tromsø (Norway): to be trained in molecular biodiversity assessment techniques, develop novel metabarcoding primers for benthic foraminifera and generate high-throughput sequencing data from recent and ancient sedimentary samples.

Field training: Southwest Sulawesi

Eligibility criteria

EU eligibility criteria for candidates: Candidates of any nationality, but in order to be eligible for the positions the following criteria applies to all applicants: 1) The applicant shall at the time of recruitment be in the first four years of his/her research career and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. 2) The applicant must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity in the country of the host institute for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment.

Candidate profile

Candidates must hold a master degree in Earth and/or Life sciences. We are looking for highly motivated students with good communication skills. Experience with molecular biology (DNA extraction from environmental samples and/or high throughput sequencing) is required. Affinity with coral reef ecology, microscopy techniques, biodiversity databases, and/or bioinformatics is desirable.

European diving license required; related training is provided in case qualification is lacking.

This is a 4-year project, the ESR will be enlisted in the University of Amsterdam PhD-programme.

For any queries you may have, please contact: Willem Renema (willem.renema@naturalis.nl)

How to apply?

Applicants are invited to submit their application, including a cover letter and CV before 1 October 2019 via this link: https://www.naturalis.nl/over-ons/early-stage-researcher-esr2-4-years-in-h2020mcsitn-4d-reef

4D-REEF has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research
and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement
No 813360

posted: 30 August 2019     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.