PhD Position in Small Mammal Ecophysiology

Trondheim, Norway
10 Jul 2018
End of advertisement period
05 Aug 2018
NT- 82/18
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Full Time

A PhD position is available at the Department of Biology. The appointment has a duration of 3 years with the possibility of a 1-year extension with 25% teaching duties in agreement with the department.

Information about the department

The strategy of the Department of Biology is to understand biological processes of life for sustainable use and conservation of the environment. The Department has an interdisciplinary approach to education and research that is deeply rooted in environmental and evolutionary biology as important links between the different sub-disciplines (cell- and molecular biology, systems biology, physiology, ethology, ecology, population genetics, marine biology, aquaculture, biodiversity and environmental toxicology). The Department of Biology is the host of the Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics (CBD), which is a National Centre of Excellence funded by the Research Council of Norway and NTNU. Further information is available at:

Ecophysiology and the study of anthropogenic stressors, including the effects of climate change, is a priority research area at the Department of Biology. The zoophysiology research group has broad national and international research collaborations and the permanent scientific staff members are recognized as international leaders in their respective disciplines. The Stawski lab conducts ecophysiological research on small mammals in Norway and Australia, with further collaborations in Austria, Poland, UK and USA. Further information is available at:

Job description

We are seeking a graduate student for a PhD research project on the ecophysiology of small mammals, with a focus on thermal, energetics and stress physiology. Ideally, the candidate should start in November 2018, but the start date is negotiable.

Most species live within a specific range and what traits define the boundaries of these ranges are not very well understood. Of particular interest is why some species have very wide distributions encompassing an array of habitats and temperatures, whereas other species are restricted to a single mountaintop. Understanding the physiological constraints of an animal can help shed light on species distributions and, importantly, what might happen to these ranges when the environment changes.

Importantly, the primary life goal of animals is to contribute to the next generation and to do so they must grow and reproduce, for which they need sufficient energy. However, animals are constantly at risk of not meeting their energetic requirements and endotherms are at a particular energetic disadvantage. While endothermy has provided mammals with many advantages, a big disadvantage is that balancing heat production and loss requires large amounts of energy. Many mammals therefore temporarily abandon regulation of a stable body temperature (heterothermy) when they are resting to save energy. Such variability in thermal physiology leads us to two important questions:

  1. How do different levels of heterothermy influence the natural distribution range of endotherms?
  2. Is being more heterothermic an advantage for endotherms to adjust to and withstand environmental change?

The PhD student will explore these questions by measuring traits such as body temperature, metabolism, stress hormones and relative telomere lengths of small mammals. Changes in daily body temperature regulation and metabolism are likely to be affected by an individual’s stress levels and elevated stress will likely contribute to telomere loss. Therefore, the unique combination of physiological (body temperature variability, metabolism, stress hormones) and genetic (telomeres) measures that will be employed by the student will elucidate what defines a species range and adaptability to new conditions. The measurements will be obtained in the field from different populations throughout Norway and also in the laboratories at NTNU.

Detailed information on our PhD programs is found at:


The applicant must have an MSc (or equivalent) in biology or related subjects. Experience with field and laboratory research in ecophysiology, particularly with small mammals (including bats), will be considered an advantage. However, candidates from all disciplines of biology are encouraged to apply. It is important that the successful candidate should be motivated, interested in the topic and conduct high quality science. She/he should also enjoy interdisciplinary research and have a keen interest in learning and working in teams.

The regulations for PhD programmes at NTNU state that a Master degree or equivalent with at least 5 years of studies and an average grade of A or B within a scale of A-E for passing grades (A best) for the two last years of the MSc is required. Candidates from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a Diploma Supplement or a similar document, which describes in detail the study and grade system and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree:

The position requires spoken and written fluency in the English language.

Terms of employment

The appointment of the PhD fellows will be made according to Norwegian guidelines for universities and university colleges and to the general regulations regarding university employees. Applicants must agree to participate in organized doctoral study programs within the period of the appointment and have to be qualified for the PhD-study.

NTNU’s personnel policy objective is that the staff must reflect the composition of the population to the greatest possible extent.

The position as PhD is remunerated according to the Norwegian State salary scale. There is a 2% deduction for superannuation contribution.

Further information can be obtained from Associate Professor Clare Stawski, Department of Biology, NTNU, E-mail: 

Further information about the Department can be found at

The application

Applications with CV, certificates from both Bachelor and Master, possible publications and other scientific works, copies of transcripts, (copies of documentation on English language proficiency test) and reference letters should be submitted.

Applications must be submitted electronically through Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered.

The reference number of the position is: NT- 82/18

Application deadline: August 5th

About this job

  • Deadline Sunday, August 5, 2018
  • Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Website
  • Municipality Trondheim
  • Jobbnorge ID 154547
  • Internal ID 2018/19713
  • Scope Fulltime
  • Duration Temporary

About applications

  • Applications on this job are registered in an electronic form on
  • You must complete: Standard CV
  • Please refer to where you first saw this job advertised!

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