The Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) is a member of the Helmholtz Association (HGF) and funded by federal and state government. AWI focuses on polar and marine research in a variety of disciplines such as biology, oceanography, geology, geochemistry and geophysics, thus allowing multidisciplinary approaches to scientific goals.

PhD position (m/f/d) for modelling the influence of management measures on food web functions on the Sylt Outer Reef


In the framework of the second phase of the pilot mission "MGF-Nordsee" of the German Alliance for Marine Research, we are looking for reinforcement for our team in the field of aquatic food web models, marine habitats and the function of coastal ecosystems.

Food web models are a useful tool to explore the long-term effects of management measures on ecosystem structure and function. In the marine protected area "Sylt Outer Reef" of the German Exclusive Economic Zone of the North Sea, different fishery measures are planned. We will investigate the potential effects using a food web model approach. The tasks include the development and analysis of scenario-based, dynamic food web models of the protected area Sylt Outer Reef.


  • Development of a spatially-resolved food web model of the protected area Sylt Outer Reef
  • Temporal-dynamic modelling of different management scenarios for the protected area
  • Analysis of the effectiveness of potential measures on selected key species
  • Processing and incorporation of available time series data into the modelling approach
  • Participation in and support for the organisation of project meetings
  • Presentation of results at conferences
  • Publication in scientific journals


  • Master's or diploma degree in biology, ecology or a related field
  • Experience in the application of food web analysis methods (e.g. Ecological Network Analysis, Ecopath with Ecosim)
  • Experience in working with large data sets
  • Ability to develop and implement interdisciplinary research questions
  • Very good communication skills
  • Due to the national orientation of the project and the direct contact with representatives of authorities and agencies, knowledge of the German language is desirable

Further Information

Please contact Dr. Sabine Horn (, +49(4651)956-4218) for further information. More information is also available at

This position is pending of final approval of funding limited to February 28th, 2026. The salary will be paid in accordance with the Collective Agreement for the Public Service of the Federation (Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes, TVöD Bund), up to salary level 13 (66%). The place of employment will be Sylt.

All doctoral candidates will be members of AWI's postgraduate program POLMAR or another graduate school and thus benefit from a comprehensive training program and extensive support measures.

The AWI is characterised by

  • our scientific success - excellent research
  • collaboration and cooperation - intra-institute, national and international, interdisciplinary
  • opportunities to develop - on the job, aiming at other positions and beyond AWI
  • a culture of reconciling work and family - an audited and well-supported aspect of our operation
  • our outstanding research infrastructure - ships, stations, aircraft, laboratories and more
  • an international environment - everyday contacts with people from all over the world
  • having an influence - fundamental research with social and political relevance
  • flat hierarchies - facilitating freedom and responsibility
  • exciting science topics, with opportunities also in technology, administration and infrastructure

Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. The AWI aims to increase the number of female employees and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply.

AWI offers the possibility of mobile working to the extent of up to 50% of regular working hours.

Disabled applicants will be given preference when equal qualifications are present.

The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family in various ways and has received a number of awards as a result of this engagement.

We look forward to your application!

Please submit your application by Feburary 12th 2023, exclusively online.

Reference number: 23/4/D/Bio-b

posted: 13 January 2023     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.