Postdoctoral Researchers in The Field Of Community Ecology And Statistical Ecology

Updated: 6 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 01 Oct 2023

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.

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 Organismal and Evolutionary Research Programme and the Helsinki Institute of Life Sciences invites applications for 2 POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHERS in community ecology and/or statistical ecology 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. 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 2024.

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 visit the REC website:


We are seeking a post doc to link the spatial and temporal data on distribution of community composition and biodiversity in Finland. The questions of interest relate to identifying the strength and rate of compositional changes of communities and/or biodiversity over space and time across different ecoregions and identifying factors and underlying mechanisms that mitigate such change. Special interest will be in analyzing alternative biodiversity indexes and their suitability to biodiversity monitoring. The successful candidate will use Finnish time series on 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 a post doc to develop statistical and computational methods for analyzing large and heterogeneous ecological data. The post docs to be hired will concentrate on one of the following projects 1) develop models and methods to integrate heterogeneous, but complementary, ecological and environmental data, and 2) develop predictive model comparison and assessment methods for extrapolative scenarios. The post-doc will also collaborate and offer data analysis support to REC researchers.

In the projects, 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. 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 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 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

Include also contact information of two persons who are willing to provide a reference letter by separate request. Please submit your application using the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the link Apply for the position. Applicants who are employees of the University of Helsinki are requested to leave their application by using the employee login.

The deadline for submitting the application is 1 October 2023. If you are interested in applying for both of the positions, please only submit one application for your first choice and indicate in your cover motivational letter your interest also for the other position.

For more information, contact by email:

Tomas Roslin (tomas.roslin(at) ), Anna-Liisa Laine (anna-liisa.laine(at) ), Marjo Saastamoinen (marjo.saastamoinen(at) ), Jarno Vanhatalo (jarno.vanhatalo(at) ).

If you need support with the recruitment system, please contact HR Coordinator Harri Hamara (harri.hamara(at) ).

Some recent publications from REC

  • 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. 2020. 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

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