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2-yr postdoc on "Feral horses and cattle as keystone animals for ecosystem restoration"

Research Area and Project Description:
This postdoc project is part of the big VILLUM Investigator project “Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World” (BIOCHANGE), funded by VILLUM FONDEN. BIOCHANGE aims to address one of the key challenges facing humanity – how to conserve the diversity of life on a planet heading towards 11 billion inhabitants and facing strong climate change in order to safeguard our natural and cultural heritage, quality of life, the numerous ecosystem services on which society depends, and even the basic functioning of the biosphere. Ecological science is key to overcoming this challenge, and BIOCHANGE will work towards this goal via basic research on fundamental Anthropocene ecological dynamics, climate change impact predictions, scenarios, and mitigation options, Big Data ecological approaches (including remote sensing), and interdisciplinary perspectives on human-nature relations and solutions.

The postdoc project will contribute to this broader objective by focusing on ecological role of two of the most widespread wild-living ungulates, namely feral horse and feral cattle, hereunder their potential and realized contribution to ecosystem restoration via intentional/unintentional trophic rewilding. The project will provide a general assessment of their effects on ecosystems and their biodiversity, via synthesis of the existing evidence worldwide and via focused new fieldwork in select areas of special interest. The project will cover both areas where they or their conspecific ancestors are considered historically native as well as areas where they are often or always considered non-native, aiming to provide a neutral, deep assessment as a major contribution to evidence-based consideration and management of these feral animals, in conservation areas and rewilding projects. The postdoc is expected to contribute ideas and concepts to the project and lead at least two high-quality papers per year in this research area, contribute to the project’s public outreach and teaching, as well as collaborate with other team members, including students, sharing skills, and helping solve problems in her/his area of expertise.

Qualifications and Specific Competences:
Applicants must have PhD degree in ecology or wildlife biology (or equivalent), or have submitted their PhD thesis for assessment before the application deadline. We expect a strong interest in ecosystem restoration and rewilding. The postdoc is expected to develop and carry out state-of-the-art statistical analyses as well as plan and conduct fieldwork independently, hereunder potentially in Europe or South America. Therefore, interest and proven abilities in field-work are expect, as are strong skills in statistical and geospatial modelling (notably with R). The successful candidate is expected to have strong collaborative skills, proven abilities to publish at a high international level, and have good skills in English and international applicants who do not have English as their first language must prove strong English language writing skills and fluency.

Supervisors and collaborators:
Project PI prof. Jens-Christian Svenning will be the main supervisor. The postdoc will join Svenning’s VILLUM Investigator team within the Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World (BIOCHANGE) and the Section for Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity (ECOINF). BIOCHANGE is a center of excellence focused on improving our understanding, predictive capacity, and responses to the ongoing and future dynamics in biodiversity under global change. ECOINF harbors strong expertise in macroecology as well as ecology and biodiversity broadly. Together BIOCHANGE and ECOINF constitute an ambitious, collaborative and highly international research community. Selected top-level international collaborators will be included where relevant. Postdocs and PhD students are encouraged to collaborate within the group, across departments and with other universities. More information about the people and research activities of the group can be found at and

Place of Employment and Work:
The place of employment and work is Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World (BIOCHANGE) and Section of Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity (ECOINF), Department of Biology, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 114, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

Application deadline: March 1, 2020.

Starting date: September 1, 2020, but flexible with possibility for early start e.g., May 1, 2020.

Application materials:
motivation letter including a 1-page outline of your ideas for the postdoc research project, 2-page CV (including number of citations and H-index from Google Scholar), full list of publications, as well as educational documentation (copies of diplomas for Master and PhD degrees, in English or Danish).

Applicants seeking further information are invited to contact: Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, phone +45 28992304, e-mail:

Application procedure
Shortlisting is used. This means that after the deadline for applications – and with the assistance from the assessment committee chairman, and the appointment committee if necessary, – the head of department selects the candidates to be evaluated. All applicants will be notified whether or not their applications have been sent to an expert assessment committee for evaluation. The selected applicants will be informed about the composition of the committee, and each applicant is given the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that concerns him/her self. Once the recruitment process is completed a final letter of rejection is sent to the deselected applicants, including the main considerations emphasized during the selection process.

Formalities and salary range
Natural Sciences refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities under the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

The application must be in English and include a curriculum vitae, degree certificate, a complete list of publications, a statement of future research plans and information about research activities, teaching portfolio and verified information on previous teaching experience (if any). Guidelines for applicants can be found here.

Appointment shall be in accordance with the collective labour agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. Further information on qualification requirements and job content may be found in the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff at Danish Universities.

Salary depends on seniority as agreed between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Confederation of Professional Associations.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background. Research activities will be evaluated in relation to actual research time. Thus, we encourage applicants to specify periods of leave without research activities, in order to be able to subtract these periods from the span of the scientific career during the evaluation of scientific productivity.

Aarhus University offers a broad variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including relocation service and career counselling to expat partners. Read more here. Please find more information about entering and working in Denmark here.

Aarhus University also offers a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU. You can read more about it here.

The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University's website.

Aarhus University
Aarhus University is an academically diverse and research-intensive university with a strong commitment to high-quality research and education and the development of society nationally and globally. The university offers an inspiring research and teaching environment to its 38,000 students (FTEs) and 8,000 employees, and has an annual revenues of EUR 885 million. Learn more at

01 March 2020


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