Postdoctoral Researcher, Research Centre for Ecological Change

Updated: about 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 11 Sep 2022

The Organismal and Evolutionary Research Programme and the Helsinki Institute of Life Sciences invite applications for eight postdoctoral researchers in biodiversity-ecosystem functioning, community ecology, biodiversity science, statistical ecology and statistics for a fixed term of 2-3 years with a possibility of continuation. There will be a trial period of six months in the beginning.

The post doc positions are part of the Research Centre for Ecological Change (REC) and are funded by the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation and the Ministry of the Environment. PIs of the Centre are prof. Anna-Liisa Laine, prof. Tomas Roslin, assoc. prof. Jarno Vanhatalo and assoc. prof. Marjo Saastamoinen. There is some flexibility in the starting date, selected candidates can start as soon as possible and ideally by early 2023.

The overreaching aim of REC is to generate a coordinated analysis of long-term ecological data to understand the drivers and consequences of global change on biodiversity. To unravel how populations, interactions between species in natural communities and their effects on ecosystem functioning are responding to ongoing environmental change, the project takes advantage of the unique long-term datasets collected in Finland. REC also develops state-of-the-art methodology for analysing long-term spatially structured data sets within a joint species distribution modelling framework. For more information on REC, please see


We are seeking a postdoc to combine analyses of ecological time-series data with field collected data to understand how biodiversity and ecosystem functioning are linked and changing across different habitats in response to climate change and/or human use of natural resources. The successful candidate will take part in developing the specific research questions as well as the field data collection approaches used in the project. The focus of the specific research questions will be decided in accordance with the background and interests of the candidate but should relate to ecosystem functions such as pollination, carbon use efficiency and/or productivity.

We seek candidates who have completed a PhD in ecology or a related field, have strong conceptual and statistical skills, have worked with large and complex datasets, experience in field work with potential expertise in utilizing methods such as eDNA, remote sensing or digital imaging. Excellent written and verbal communication skills, and the ability to conceive, execute and complete research projects, and to think independently and creatively are required. The post docs will work as a part of a team at the Centre and excellent communication skills are required.


We are seeking two post docs to link the spatial and temporal data on distribution of community composition and biodiversity in Finland. The questions of interest relate to identifying what traits determine winners and losers in regards to on-going environmental change, analysis of the emergence of novel community compositions, the strength and rate of biodiversity shift over the last decades, and identifying factors and underlying mechanisms that mitigate such change. The data and research questions concern both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The focus of the specific research questions will be developed jointly with the candidate.

We seek candidates who have completed a PhD in ecology or a related field, and have strong conceptual and computational skills, as well as experience in developing and working with large and complex datasets and theory. Excellent written and verbal communication skills, and the ability to conceive, execute and complete research projects, and to think independently and creatively are required. Overall, excellent communication skills are required for extensive collaborations.


We are seeking two post docs to analyze the state of the art and future strategies for the monitoring of biodiversity and for sustained generation of long-term community data. The successful candidate will survey the Finnish datasets currently available as well as ongoing programs of data collection, identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the monitoring of Finnish nature, and suggest future strategies for the comprehensive, sustainable survey of our living environment. Special interest will be in analyzing alternative biodiversity indexes and their suitability to biodiversity monitoring. The data and the monitoring concern both aquatic and terrestrial communities. As a basis for future monitoring strategies, the successful candidate is expected to consider current national and international environmental targets, what insight and metrics are needed to measure success in achieving them, and what critical sources of uncertainty to quantify in evaluating current performance. Thus, the postdoctoral researcher will work at the interface of biodiversity monitoring, community ecology and statistics. The post-doc will also collaborate and offer data analysis support to REC researchers.

The successful applicant should have completed a PhD in ecology or a related field, and have strong analytical and statistical skills. Alternatively, the successful candidate should have a PhD in statistical ecology or statistics and a strong, proved, experience in ecology. We seek candidates with excellent written and verbal communication skills, and the ability to conceive, execute and complete research projects, and to think independently and creatively. Overall, excellent social skills are required for extensive collaborations.


We are seeking three post docs to develop statistical and computational methods for analyzing large and heterogeneous ecological data and to plan biodiversity monitoring programs. The post docs to be hired to this project will 1) develop models and methods to integrate heterogeneous, but complementary, ecological and environmental data, 2) develop predictive model comparison and assessment methods for extrapolative scenarios, and 3) develop statistical theory and methods to plan cost efficient biodiversity monitoring programs. You will concentrate on one of the three development tasks while contributing and helping in the others. You will also collaborate and provide help with data analyses of other REC researchers in their more applied projects. In the first two tasks, the work focuses specifically on so called joint species distribution modeling (JSDM) framework. JSDMs are multivariate models that can be applied to hierarchical, spatial and temporal study designs, and many kinds of response data. These models are among the most important statistical tools in community ecology today. They are routinely used for inference and various prediction tasks. The JSDMs used in this project are built around novel latent factor and Gaussian process models. In the third task, the work focuses specifically on Bayesian optimal design methods for high dimensional biodiversity data.  For our recent methodological publications, see the reference list at the end.

The successful applicant should have doctoral degree in statistics, machine learning, or other relevant field, and have experience in developing and applying Bayesian methods in computationally challenging problems. Prior experience in ecology is not necessary, but considered an advantage. The exact direction of the work can be agreed upon based on the experience and interests of the candidate.


The salary of the successful candidate will be based on level 5 of the demands level chart for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities. In addition, the appointee will be paid a salary component based on personal performance. The starting salary will be ca. 3400–3800 euros/month, depending on the appointee’s qualifications and experience. The University of Helsinki welcomes applicants from a variety of gender identities, and linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

The application should include the following documents as a single pdf file:

  • motivational letter telling which of the positions you are interested in and outlining why you are the right person for this task (max 1 page)
  • CV (max 2 pages)
  • list of publications
  • contact information of two persons who are willing to provide a reference letter by separate request. 

External applicants, please submit your application using the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the Apply Now button.

Applicants who have a username and a valid employment contract, a grant researcher's contract, a visiting researcher's or visiting professor's contract at the University of Helsinki are requested to leave their application by using the employee login.

The deadline for submitting the application is 11.9.2022 (at 23:59 EEST). If you are interested in applying for more than one of the positions, please only submit one application for your first choice and indicate in your cover motivational letter your interest in the other position(s).


Tomas Roslin ( ), Anna-Liisa Laine ( ), Marjo Saastamoinen ( ), Jarno Vanhatalo ( ).

If you need support with the recruitment portal, please contact HR Specialist Harri Hamara ( ).


Antão, L. H., Weigel, B., Strona, G., Hällfors, M., Kaarlejärvi, E., Dallas, T., Opedal, Ø. H., Heliölä, J., Henttonen, H., Huitu, O., Korpimäki, E., Kuussaari, M., Lehikoinen, A., Leinonen, R., Lindén, A., Merilä, P., Pietiäinen, H., Pöyry, J., Salemaa, M., Tonteri, T., Vuorio, K., Ovaskainen, O., Saastamoinen, M., Vanhatalo, J., Roslin, T. & Laine, A.-L. 2022. Climate change reshuffles northern species within their niches. Nature Climate Change, 12:587-592. DOI: 10.1038/s41558-022-01381-x

Hällfors, M., Antao, L., Itter, M., Lehikoinen, A., Lindholm, T. M., Roslin, T. & Saastamoinen, M. 2020. Shifts in timing and duration of breeding for 73 boreal bird species over four decades. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(31):18557-18565. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1913579117

Hällfors, M. H., Pöyry, J., Heliölä, J., Kohonen, I., Kuussaari, M., Leinonen, R., Schmucki, R., Sihvonen, P. & Saastamoinen, M. 2021. Combining range and phenology shifts offers a winning strategy for boreal Lepidoptera. Ecology Letters, 24(8):1619-1632. DOI: 10.1111/ele.13774

Itter, M.  Kaarlejärvi, E., Laine, A.-L., Hamberg, L., Tonteri, T. & Vanhatalo, J. 2022. Identifying and separating the processes underlying boreal forest understory community assembly. Preprint available at bioRxiv. DOI: 10.1101/2022.05.03.490480

Fraixedas, S., Roslin, T. Antão, L. H., Pöyry, J. & Laine, A.-L. (2022) Nationally reported metrics can’t adequately guide transformative change in biodiversity policy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(9) e2117299119. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2117299119

Liu, J. and Vanhatalo, J. (2020). Bayesian model based spatio-temporal sampling designs and partially observed log Gaussian Cox process. Spatial Statistics, 35:100392. DOI: 10.1016/j.spasta.2019.100392

Vanhatalo, J., Hartmann, M. and Veneranta, L. (2020). Additive multivariate Gaussian processes for joint species distribution modeling with heterogeneous data. Bayesian Analysis, 15(2):415–447. DOI: 10.1214/19-BA1158


The Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme (OEB) of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences comprises roughly 40 research groups which employ 40 principal investigators and 120 researchers. The research programme is situated in the Viikki science park.

The Helsinki Institute of Life Sciences (HiLIFE) is a life science institute at the University of Helsinki established in 2017 supporting high quality research across campuses and life science faculties. HiLIFE builds on existing strengths and new recruits and partnerships to create an attractive international environment for solving grand challenges in health, food, and environment.

The University of Helsinki, founded in 1640, is one of the world’s leading universities for multidisciplinary research. The university has an international academic community of 40,000 students and staff members. The University of Helsinki offers comprehensive services to its employees, including occupational health care and health insurance, sports facilities, and opportunities for professional development. The International Staff Services office assists employees from abroad with their transition to work and life in Finland.

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