Postdoc position: Rethinking the role of water in climate robust landscapes

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)

Wageningen, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Locatie: Wageningen
Max uren per week: 38,00
Max salaris: €4.670,00
Duur overeenkomst: 30 months
Solliciteer t/m: 11-12-2022

What you will be doing

Water plays a central role in the Dutch landscape and water levels are tightly controlled with the aim of optimizing agricultural production and protecting urban areas. Current water management schemes conflict with a sustainable and nature-inclusive land use given that the biodiversity and functioning of natural wetlands require high and fluctuating water levels. Moreover, the overuse of fertilizers and pesticides, despite their regulation, leads to biodiversity loss and has adverse impact on human health. The resulting eutrophication leads to biodiversity loss in aquatic systems, which is expected to further reduce their functioning, and thereby resistance and resilience to climate change. With ongoing climate change more drought periods are expected, therefore the sandy-soil landscapes are under high pressure to continue their functions.

Next to climate change and biodiversity loss, also demography is changing over the next decennia. For the Netherlands, this includes an increase in population, shift in age structure towards more elderly people, and movement of citizens from cities to countryside. Integrating scenarios for demography with those for climate change and biodiversity is required to understand potential futures yet hardly studied so far.

The aim of this project is to set up a transdisciplinary study to establish how land and water use practices are interacting with landscape scale biodiversity, water quality, and societal health and wellbeing. The project starts from current conditions and incorporates future scenarios of climate, biodiversity, and societal conditions up to 2050.

What you will be contributing

This project will assess the complex interplay of climatic changes, societal responses, and impacts on water quality and biodiversity using basic scientific approaches to develop scenarios for climate robust landscapes. It will follow a social-ecological systems (SES) approach. This approach can serve as instrument in promoting an interdisciplinary dialogue and allows collaboration in a wide set of fields and practices.

The position will contribute to two objectives:

1) Apply an SES approach to describe the existing social-ecological system of biodiversity, water quality, and their interaction with water users along gradients of intensity of agricultural, natural, and urban land-use in sandy-soil landscapes.

2) Develop qualitative, interdisciplinary, and multi-factorial scenarios about the future of landscapes, integrating catchment-scale impacts of climate change with shifts in demography of the Dutch population, as well as agricultural, natural, and urban-based response actions on biodiversity and water quality.

Job requirements:

  • The candidate should hold a PhD with a background in environmental sciences, aquatic ecology, socioecology, or related fields
  • Experience or strong interest in scenario development
  • Able to work in a team and coordinate a transdisciplinary project
  • Being creative and affinity with conceptual thinking
  • Professional working proficiency in English, including scientific writing

What we are offering

An open and respectful research environment with ample opportunities for personal development through a training programs and courses.

Your workplace

You will be working in the Aquatic Ecology department of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), located in Wageningen, the Netherlands, with supervision by Prof. Dedmer van de Waal and Dr. Ellen Weerman. The work will be in close collaboration with Dr. Jetske de Boer (Terrestrial Ecology department, NIOO-KNAW), Prof. Helga de Valk (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute) and Dr. Rebeca Ibáñez Martín (Meertens institute).

For more information

Please contact: Dedmer van de Waal, [email protected], +31(0)317 473 553.


In your applications, please include a cover letter indicating your motivation and relevant experience, a CV, and 1-3 professional referees (name, address, telephone & email).

About NIOO
The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is a top research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). NIOO-KNAW focuses on fundamental and strategic research on individual organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems.

Terms of employment

Depending on education and experience the minimum salary is €3.557,00 and the maximum salary is €4.670,00 gross per month for a full-time appointment (scale 10 cao Nederlandse Universiteiten/KNAW). This is exclusive of 8% vacation allowance, 8.3% year-end bonus, travel allowance, internet allowance, home working allowance and pension accrual with ABP.

The KNAW offers its staff an excellent package of secondary benefits. A package that meets the different needs of employees depending on their stage of life, lifestyle or career ambitions. For example, by working an extra two hours a week, it is possible to increase the number of days off from 29 to 41 days a year (with full-time employment). 

For a complete overview of the terms of employment, please refer to the web page: werken bij de KNAW.

Diversity & Inclusion

The KNAW considers a working environment in which everyone feels welcome and appreciated of great importance. A working environment in which attention is paid to individual quality and where development opportunities are paramount. Together we strive for an inclusive culture in which we embrace differences. We would therefore like to invite candidates who want to contribute to this through their background and experience. In the event of equal suitability, preference will be given to the candidate who thus enhances diversity within the Academy.

We will not respond to any supplier enquiries based on this job advertisement.