PhD Positions: Research Group Spatial Science in Ecology and Environment

 (via ResearchGate)
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague
Prague, Czech Republic
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified


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Job description

The research group Spatial Science in Ecology and Environment (SSEE) is seeking highly motivated PhD students to join their international interdisciplinary research team. The principal focus of the research group (that should also be the area of the applicants’ interest and expertise) is environmental Earth observationand/or species distribution modelling. We offer 1 – 4 fully funded positions covering up to 4 years of study. The PhD students will be rewarded with 18,000-25,000 CZK/month net, which fully covers a student life in Prague (for comparison, the median gross salary in Czechia is 27,700 CZK per month).

The following topics are ready to be explored (see also SSEE website):

1. Indices based on Earth observation data as indicators of avian/plant diversity and distribution at multiple scales

Requirements: The candidate should have a good background in animal or plant ecology, remote sensing, GIS and statistics, be experienced in R scripting and be fluent in English.

About: Earth Observation (EO) data represent a valuable source of information about biodiversity and species distribution. Unclassified multispectral satellite data are readily available for large areas and many time points. As several recent studies indicate, such data could serve as indicators/predictors of both plant and animal diversity and distribution at multiple scales without a time consuming, expensive and often inaccurate classification of raw EO data into discrete vegetation/habitat classes. In connection with a SSEE project, you should contribute to this present-day research topic exploring both the potential and bottle-necks of EO data for modelling species distribution and diversity, using various spatial and spectral resolutions. Preferred focal taxa include birds or trees but we are open to working with other terrestrial vertebrates or vascular plants as well.

2. Sentinel and UAS-borne data for improving NATURA 2000 habitat mapping

Requirements: The candidate should have a strong background in remote sensing, be experienced in R and Python scripting, have a background in ecology or nature conservation and be fluent in English.

About: Protecting the diversity of natural and semi-natural habitats in Europe is one of the aims set out by the Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora). Earth observation is undoubtedly a powerful tool to acquire synoptic data on the habitat types; however, its use for Natura 2000 habitat mapping is still very limited. In a joint SSEE and Nature Conservation Agency project, you will explore ways to increase efficiency of the Natura 2000 habitat mapping process in Czechia using data of Sentinel satellites and UAS equipped with RGB, multispectral and thermal sensors. The main question is which Natura 2000 habitat types can be recognized using individual data and classification methods. A special focus should be dedicated to the classification accuracy. Preferred focal environment are various types of wetlands.

3. Development of methods for monitoring of cryosphere using microwave and optical satellite systems

Requirements: The candidate should have a strong background in remote sensing, be experienced in Python scripting and fluent in English.

About: Snow cover distribution, glacier volume changes and further processes in the cryosphere are sensitive indicators of climate changes. Satellite data provide a synoptic overview of these processes in a regular manner. The changes of cryosphere increase the exposure to geohazards such as outbursts of pro- and supra-glacial lakes. The main goal of the work will be to assess the potential of optical and microwave data for the monitoring of snow cover distribution, annual growth of glacial lakes, changes in lake water temperature and icing cycle. Data acquired by European satellites of the Copernicus Program will be predominantly used.

4. Analysis of mass wasting and erosion dynamics in semi-arid areas from historical and modern satellite data

Requirements: The candidate should have a strong background in remote sensing, be experienced in Python scripting and fluent in English.

About: Mass wasting and soil erosion are serious concerns especially in developing countries with high population rates. Understanding of the dynamics of these processes is essential for selection of suitable mitigation measures. Remote sensing data analysis allows an accurate quantification of landslides and gully erosion. The proposed research is focused on the potential of a combination of historical and modern remote sensing data for a better understanding of these processes. Historical data from Corona, Hexagon a Gambit reconnaissance satellites will be used in combination with modern high-resolution data. Methods of ortho-rectification, terrain reconstruction from stereo-data, multispectral analysis and feature detection will be utilized.

5. Remote Sensing for monitoring of measures supporting water retention

Requirements: The candidate should have a strong background in remote sensing, be experienced in Python scripting and fluent in English.

About: Retention is one of the main priorities in the frame of combating drought. Remote sensing has a high potential for monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation measures leading to an increase in retention. Such measures include for instance removal of underground drainage, change in land management or application of biochar. Thermal data, especially the difference between day and night takes, indicate moisture content. Similarly, optical data are sensitive to the amount of vegetation and thus indicate available soil moisture. The proposed topic is focused on an assessment of the potential of UAV and satellite data for monitoring of the effect of the mitigation measures. Data acquisitions and processing will be partially carried out within the frame of the SWAMP project. Some study sites will be identical to the SWAMP study sites.

How to apply

Please send your full application as a single PDF document (up to 10 MB) by email to Petra Kadlecova ( ). The document should include:

  • The research topic you are applying for
  • Cover letter describing your motivation and your qualification for the research topic (up to 1 page)
  • List of 5-10 scientific papers that you consider as inspiring for the research topic (the selection is completely up to you)
  • Your CV (up to 1 page)
  • Copy of your Diploma + Diploma supplement (Transcript of records)
  • Contact details of at least two referees (e.g. your diploma thesis supervisor and reviewer). You can also include their evaluation of your study.

Questions/more details

Please, visit faculty website for information about PhD study at the Faculty and SSEE website for details about SSEE research group. For more information, do not hesitate to contact Petra Kadlecova   (questions related to the administrative process) or Petra Simova  (details about topics 1 and 2) and Jan Kropacek   (details about topics 3, 4 and 5).

Selection of candidates

In the first round, your motivation and qualification for the research topic will be evaluated on the basis of your application. You will be informed as soon as possible if you progress to the second round represented by an interview (personal or via Skype).