Postdoctoral Fellow, quantitative palaeoecology & ecology, Bergen, Norway

There is a vacancy for a three-year postdoctoral fellow position at the University of Bergen’s Department of Biology within the Ecological and Environmental Change Research Group as part of the European Research Council funded project Humans on Planet Earth – Long-term impacts on biosphere dynamics (HOPE).

About the HOPE project

A critical question in Earth system science is what was the impact of prehistoric people on the biosphere? There is a wealth of information about human impact through clearance, agriculture, erosion, and modifying water and nutrient budgets. Humans have greatly changed the biosphere patterns on Earth in the last 8000–11,000 years, but have humans modified the major ecological processes (e.g. assembly rules, species interactions) that shape community assembly and dynamics? To answer this question, patterns in pollen-stratigraphical data for the last 11,500 years from over 2000 sites across the globe will be explored consistently using numerical techniques to detect quantitative changes in 25 ecosystem properties. Patterns in these properties will be compared statistically at sites within biomes, between biomes, within continents, and between continents to test the hypothesis that prehistoric human activities changed the basic processes of community assembly and that interrelationships between processes changed though time.

Qualifications and personal qualities

- The applicant must hold a PhD or an equivalent degree within quantitative palaeoecology, ecology, biogeography, or a related field.
- The successful candidate should be highly motivated, enjoy the challenge of working with very large data-sets, and understand the relevance of the data and the results.
- The successful candidate can work independently and in a structured manner, and have the ability to cooperate with others within HOPE’s consortium as well as within the EECRG, and to follow through challenging ideas.
- Proficiency in both written and oral English is essential.


- The successful candidate must have experience in quantitative analyses of palaeoecological or ecological data using the statistical software R or related programming language and in using large databases.
- The candidate will be able to document skills in one or more research fields relevant to the position such as Quaternary palaeoecology, palaeoclimatology, applied statistics, numerical ecology, quantitative palaeoecology, biogeography, macroecology, community ecology, and biodiversity.
- The candidate will play a major role in the publication of HOPE results.


The successful candidate will be responsible for developing the HOPE database of pollen-stratigraphical data and associated chronological palaeoenvironmental and site data within the framework of state-of-the-art palaeoinformatics, for the numerical and statistical analyses of many large pollen-stratigraphical data-sets, and for developing appropriate software for particular palaeoecological and diversity analyses.


Closing date: 15 September 2017.

Further information

Detailed information about the position and about how to apply can be obtained by contacting: Professor John Birks, Department of Biology, University of Bergen (+47 5558 3350 or +47 5593 7717, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).