Two-year postdoc on Macroecological isotopic perspectives on past novel ecosystem dynamics

Updated: about 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 01 Apr 2023

The Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies and the Department of Biology, Aarhus University, invite applications for a two-year postdoc position on past novel ecosystem dynamics as reconstructed via isotopic studies of selected species in Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene contexts.

The position is for two years and is available from September 1, 2023, or soon thereafter.

This postdoc project is part of the newly established Center for Ecological Dynamics in a Novel Biosphere (ECONOVO), funded by the Danish National Research Foundation. Overall, ECONOVO aims to provide critically new perspectives on the future of the biosphere. Novel ecosystems (NEs) have species compositions or abiotic conditions without historical precedent, e.g., intercontinental species invasions and extraordinary warming. NEs are spreading fast and expected to be globally dominant by the late 21st century. Key drivers are climate change, globalization, and extirpation of large-sized organisms, resulting in ecosystems deviating from anything seen for millions of years. The spread of NEs is likely to profoundly affect biosphere functioning but how so is poorly understood at present. To address this complex theme, ECONOVO will take an unparalleled, interdisciplinary approach, integrating Big Data and field-based ecology, satellite-based remote sensing, archaeology, paleoecology, and population genomics to bridge this crucial knowledge gap.

Job description

This postdoc project will be part of the ECONOVO research theme 1: Diversity Dynamics, focused on understanding biodiversity dynamics in novel ecosystems (NEs) past and present. This position is focused on isotopic niche dynamics of selected terrestrial megafauna during the Late Glacial and Early Holocene in Europe and/or Africa. The aim of this project will be first to collate relevant stable isotopic data from the literature and available databases, and then model megafaunal isotopic niche spaces comparatively and in relation to background environmental variables and key markers of ecosystem novelty, as inferred from published proxy records and/or models. The postdoc is expected to lead a systematic compilation of published stable isotope values for relevant terrestrial megafauna and to use existing modelling tools (e.g., rKIN, SIBER, nicheROVER) to assess dietary niche breadth and stability across time and space. Further, dietary niches should then be assessed in relation to the pace and nature of ecosystem novelty during these periods. Finally, the postdoc is expected to contribute ideas and concepts to the project and lead at least two high-quality papers in this research area. It is also expected that the postdoc contributes to the project’s public outreach and teaching, as well as collaborating with other team members, including students, sharing skills, and helping solve problems in her/his area of expertise.

Your profile

Applicants must have PhD degree in ecology, geology, archaeological science, palaeoanthropology, geography or equivalent. Expertise with isotopy is expected, ideally in combination with solid skills in macroecological statistical modelling. The successful candidate is expected to have strong collaborative skills, proven abilities to publish at a high international level, and have good command of English. International applicants who do not have English as their first language must demonstrate excellent English language writing skills and fluency.

Application materials

The application must be in English and include 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).

Past research achievements will be assessed based on the active research time of the applicant in question. We therefore ask applicants to specify any career breaks they have had (for instance due to maternity/paternity leave) in order to gauge their research productivity.

Only submitted publications will be assessed; a list of publications is not sufficient. As a result, applications without submitted publications will not be assessed.

References or recommendations should not be included with the application. Applicants who are selected for a job interview may be asked to provide professional references.

Supervisor and collaborators

Professor Felix Riede will be the main supervisor with Professor Jens-Christian Svenning and Dr. Trine Kellberg Nielsen as co-supervisors – all key personnel at ECONOVO. The postdoc will join the ECONOVO team within the Section for Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity (ECOINF) as well as the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies. Key international associates to ECONOVO will also be involved. ECONOVO is a Center of Excellence focused on improving our insights into emerging novel ecological conditions and how to steer these conditions towards the most positive outcome possible. ECOINF harbors strong expertise in macroecology, remote sensing, and megafauna and vegetation ecology, as well as in ecology, human-environment relations, and biodiversity broadly. Together ECONOVO, ECOINF, and the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies constitute an ambitious, collaborative, and highly international research community. Multiple local and international collaborators will be included where relevant. Postdocs and PhD students are encouraged to collaborate within the group, across departments, and with other universities.

What we offer

The successful candidate is offered:

  • an ambitious, creative, and friendly research environment, inviting lively, open and critical discussion within and across different fields of research
  • a working environment with teamwork, close working relations, network activities among young scientists and social activities
  • a workplace characterized by professionalism, equality, and a healthy work-life balance
  • access to a well-developed research infrastructure
  • office space, shared equipment

Place of Work

The place of employment and work is the Center for Ecological Dynamics in a Novel Biosphere (ECONOVO)’s office at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, located at beautiful Campus Moesgård some 10 km south of Aarhus city centre. As part of ECONOVO, the candidate will also be a member of Section of Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity (ECOINF), Department of Biology, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 116, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark, with an additional physical workplace there.  

About the Departments

The Department of Biology hosts research programs and teaching curricula that cover all major biological sub-disciplines. The Department currently employs approximately 140 academic and technical staff and 40 PhD students. The Department hosts BSc and MSc study programs in Biology with about 400 students enrolled as well as a PhD program. The Department offer a vibrant and informal research environment with a long-standing tradition for collaboration with international university partners in the absolute elite.

The Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, and its associated research programme known as Materials, Culture and Heritage (MCH) are concerned with people and the environment from the earliest to modern times, with a focus on studies of material culture. Based on fieldwork, library and laboratory studies – including methods from anthropology, history and a variety of natural scientific approaches – the programme investigates and challenges our understanding of past societies seen in a deep historical perspective. The Department has an international profile and strong research networks. A dynamic research environment provides the framework for large research projects, international conferences, and a variety of visiting researchers. The environment is versatile and cross-disciplinary, and the academic staff’s research competences span topics ranging from war and power, mobility and globalisation, family and individual, religion and rituals, landscape and settlement, palaeodemography and evolution, trade and networks, technology and knowledge exchange to (in particular) quantitative analysis methods, field methodology and digital representation.

The working language is English, and we welcome applications from all genders of all backgrounds. Read about the Danish work-life balance, special opportunities for junior researchers, and the services available when relocating to Aarhus University here . The main campus of Aarhus University (with the Department of Biology) is located in a beautiful park close to the city centre (population 300.000), while Campus Moesgård (with the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies) is located 10 km south of town at the stunning Moesgård Manor complex.

Life quality and time allocation to family life in Denmark is high, and international investigations usually report that no other nationality scores higher in terms of life satisfaction.

You can read more about the Department of Biology here , and about the Department of Archaeology and Heritage here .

Contact Information

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


School of Culture and Society

At the School of Culture and Society the object of research and teaching is the interplay between culture and society in time and space:

  • From the traditional disciplines of the humanities and theology to applied social research
  • From Antiquity to the issues facing contemporary societies
  • From familiar Danish cultural forms to other very different worlds
  • From local questions to global challenges.

The school’s goal is to produce compelling research with an international resonance, as well as offering teaching and talent development of high quality. The school has a broad cooperative interface with society, both in Denmark and abroad, and contributes to social innovation, research communication and further and continuing education. 

For further information about the school, please see .

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