Postdoctoral Fellowship in tropical biodiversity science (spatial ecology, SDMs, phylogenetics, and taxonomy)
Fixed term for 36 months, available from Jan 2017
Salary c. £31,000 p.a.

Applications are invited for a 3 year fixed term post-doctoral position at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.  

This post is part of “Nordeste – new science for a neglected biome”, a project funded by NERC-FAPESP Newton Fund. The project focuses on characterising the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of the neglected and threatened dry forests of northeastern Brazil known as the caatinga. It comprises a broad range of work packages involving several UK and Brazil institutions. This postdoctoral position will lead data-gathering, field work and analyses of the biodiversity work package run by RBGE.

The project study area covers all northeastern Brazil. The biodiversity work package aims to model species diversity across the entire region using taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional data, and integrating these findings with other cross-disciplinary work packages that focus on the ecological function of dry forests. The postdoc will lead the analytical work and in play an important role in integrating the results across the multidisciplinary project. The postdoc will also lead in fieldwork, field training, and engaging with the public and the policy sector in Brazil.

The biodiversity work package of the project aims to:

  • Model taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic plant species diversity across northeast Brazil;

  • Project current models under future climate scenarios;

  • Delimit biologically meaningful ecoregion maps for the area using boundary delineation methods;

  • Identify areas at highest risk of losing taxonomic, functional and/or phylogenetic diversity under climate and land use change scenarios

  • Coordinate plant specimen and DNA voucher collecting in the field in newly established plots;

  • Identify all plant voucher specimens (all plants, not just woody);

  • Produce a community phylogeny for all woody species found in plots;

  • Investigate presence of cryptic diversity in 30 caatinga plant species complexes.

You will have a completed or soon to be completed (by start of the post) PhD in a related field in ecology, evolutionary biology, and/or taxonomy. You will need to have a broad, interdisciplinary interest in these three fields, proficiency in R (preferably in spatial,  ecological and phylogenetic analyses),  good skills in quantitative scientific methods, knowledge of Species Distribution Modelling algorithms, strong data management skills, experience in co-ordinating collaborative groups across countries and cultures, and a track record of publications.

Experience in tropical field work, molecular phylogenetic and functional trait data analyses, science communication to the public and policymakers, skills in plant identification and taxonomy, and ability to speak Portuguese and/or Spanish will be beneficial.

The work will be based in Edinburgh although you will work closely with all partners involved in the project in Brazil and across the UK.

A full job description and person specification can be downloaded from this page. Informal enquiries should be made to Prof Toby Pennington (; +44 (0)131 248 2818) and Dr Tiina Särkinen (, +44 (0) 131 248 1030).

Interested applicants should send a CV and covering letter, outlining the skills and experience they could bring to the post, as well as a completed equal opportunities form to or to the HR department, The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20a Inverleith Row, Edinburgh EH3 5LR by 5pm GMT on Wednesday, 31st August 2016.

If you have not heard from us within three weeks of the closing date, please assume that your application has not been shortlisted.

No recruitment agencies please.

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