PhD: Effects of Microplastics on Freshwater Foodwebs in the Anthropocene

 (via AcademicTransfer)
The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)
Wageningen, Netherlands
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified


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Freshwater ecosystems are under multiple pressures, including eutrophication, climate change and chemical pollution.  Microplastics have received increasing attention over the last decade.  However, not much is known about the interaction between the presence of these microplastics in the aquatic environment and other anthropogenic pressures on ecosystem functioning.  Especially, indirect effects (non-lethal) have been understudied.

Aim of this project is to determine the effects of microplastics on the functioning of freshwater ecosystems under multiple anthropogenic pressures. We hypothesise that exposure to microplastics in combination with other stressors will cause significant changes in food web composition and functioning. The PhD candidate will demonstrate effects of microplastics on trophic interactions, and scale up to food web effects in large outdoor mesocosms. Bioassays will be developed with the aim to predict the ecosystem impact of multiple stressors.

The PhD candidate will follow a new, integrative and stepwise, multidisciplinary approach to advance from understanding to prediction. The PhD will be part of a large-scale collaboration, consisting of the research team of the microplastic research group  ( e.g., led by Prof. Dr. A.A. Koelmans.

The project will provide fundamentally new and critically needed knowledge on the more subtle effects of microplastics discharge on ecosystem functioning. This may lead to prioritization of microplastics for water quality monitoring and to stimulation of developing biodegradable microplastics.

The PhD student will be primarily based in Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) supervised by Dr. Lisette de Senerpont Domis, and Prof. Dr. Ellen van Donk of the NIOO-KNAW, and Prof. Dr. Bart Koelmans  of the Wageningen University.


max. 38 hours per week, temporary
€2266—€2897 per month


The candidate needs to have a strong background in aquatic ecology and environmental chemistry, experience with microplastic research is highly appreciated.  She/he needs to have a master degree.  If the candidate has not completed her/his higher education with English as the language of instruction, she/he has to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language (TOEFL internet-based 90, with minimum sub-score 20 (was 23) for speaking of equivalent). As the candidate will be part of a larger research team, good team player skills are required.



This is a temporary appointment, initially for 1 year and upon satisfaction to be prolonged for a maximum of 4 years (1.0 fte). Starting day: April 1, 2019. The PhD position is for four years.


The gross salary starts at € 2.266, - per month in the 1st year, and will gradually increase to a maximum of € 2.897, - per month in the 4th year, scale P, Collective Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten), excluding 8% holiday pay and a year-end bonus.