PhD Position in Biodiversity Modelling and Community Ecology

Trondheim, Norway
23 Nov 2021
End of advertisement period
07 Jan 2022
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

In 2015, the 2030 agenda with the 17 sustainability goals was adopted by all UN member states. The sustainability goals see the environment, economy and social development in context. The time horizon for necessary changes is short, and it is challenging to combine different considerations without conflicts of objectives and unintended consequences of measures.

NTNU is now announcing 43 individual PhD positions that will contribute to a greater understanding of system effects, societal changes and conflicts of interest related to the sustainability challenges. These positions are divided into 9 interdisciplinary projects with mainly 4-7 PhD
positions in each project (

The position will be a part of a larger multidisciplinary project "Nature-based solutions for land use transitions towards more sustainable societies", funded by the NTNU Sustainability call. The project has following main objectives:

  • To quantify how land use changes affect local and regional biodiversity, and to assess the societal costs such biodiversity losses
  • To provide an in-depth understanding of the societal aspects related to land use change and biodiversity loss and identify the roles and rights of stakeholders in defining biodiversity and nature
  • To develop tools to implement compensation and restoration of societal and biodiversity costs into practical planning in order to reach the aims of the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDG).

The project involves a collaboration between the following departments at NTNU: Department of Biology, Department of Geography, Department of Natural History, and Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management. The position announced here are located at the Department of Biology and the Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics (CBD). CBD is a multidisciplinary centre of excellence ( for research into changes in time and space of biological diversity at different organismal levels.

About the position

One fully financed PhD position are available at the Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics (CBD), Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The aim of the PhD project is to study impacts of environmental variation, particularly land use changes, on patterns of biodiversity in time and space. Central tasks will also be to evaluate such impacts across environmental gradients in space, and among different taxonomic groups or trophic levels. To reach these aims, the candidate will work with comprehensive data of species communities from different taxa with recently developed statistical tools to model spatial and temporal dynamics of species communities or distribution.

The candidate will perform empirical case study analyses and multi-species modelling based on case studies in the Trøndelag county in central Norway. The empirical data will be a combination of already collected data, and data collected by the candidate during the project period. Because a central aim for the project is to assess methods to compensate for loss of nature, evaluation of ecosystem restoration will be an important task for the project.

We are searching for a highly motivated candidate with experience from community ecology, preferably also with competence in modelling of interacting species. The successful candidate will be part of a multi-disciplinary research at CBD team covering empirical, theoretical, and statistical expertise in eco-evolutionary biology. In addition, being part of the NTNU Sustainability project "Nature-based solutions for land use transitions towards more sustainable societies", the candidate will be in close contact with PhD-candidates from other departments at NTNU. The project will also be included as a part of the proposed Gjærevoll-centre for biological diversity and green transitions.

The position will suit a PhD candidate who is keen to learn advanced statistical methods for biodiversity modelling and apply them to understand patterns of species occurrences and community dynamics in time and space from intact nature and human-impacted areas. It will provide complete doctoral education to obtain a doctoral degree, including primary research training, PhD-level credit courses, and appropriate teaching experience (if agreed). Research training will include data management, statistical analyses, experience of field data collection, and experience of working within a collaborative research team.

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree

Duties of the position

  • Learn and apply advanced statistical methods to analyse spatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity from different taxa (birds, invertebrates, plants)
  • Contribute to collecting, collating and checking field data
  • Produce a high quality PhD thesis, comprising manuscripts written for publication in scientific journals
  • Produce presentations for further research dissemination
  • Contribute to building a collaborative and interactive local and international research team
  • Fulfil NTNU’s course credit requirements for the award of a doctoral degree

Required selection criteria

  • You must have a professionally relevant background in ecology or biostatistics/biomathematics.
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level. This corresponds to an undergraduate Bachelor degree and typically a two-year Master’s degree.
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education.
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program
  • Well-developed understanding of population and community dynamics, especially in spatially structured environments.
  • Good skills in R or equivalent programming language.
  • As the candidate will be part of a multidisciplinary project, ability to work in team and cross-disciplinarity.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant  

Preferred selection criteria

  • Experience from working with large biodiversity data from different taxa
  • Experience with temporal and/or spatial models of populations and/or species communities
  • Good written and oral English language skills
  • Experience from fieldwork is considered positive

Personal characteristics

  • Reliable
  • Communicative
  • Self-motivated
  • Organised
  • Collaborative

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 491 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years, or 4 years with 25 % duty work in agreement with the department.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include: 

  • CV, certificates and diplomas
  • transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted.
  • A copy of the master's thesis. If you recently have submitted your master's thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • Name and address of three referees
  • If you have publications or other relevant research work

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

In accordance with The Public Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

Questions about the position can be directed to: Bernt-Erik Sæther ( or Ivar Herfindal (

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

Application deadline: 07.01.2022

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Biology 

We work with global challenges in natural diversity, climate, the environment, health and nutrition. Our expertise in biological processes at all levels – from molecules to ecosystems – contributes to a sustainable society. The Department educate graduates for a wide range of careers in public administration, business and academia. The Department of Biology is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

Deadline 7th January 2022
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service

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