The Department of Biosciences at the University of Helsinki invites applications for 5 post doc positions to utilize long-term ecological data to understand impacts of global change

The post doc positions are part of the Research Centre for Ecological Change and are funded by the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation for 1.1.2018-31.12.2020. PIs of the Centre are prof. Anna-Liisa Laine, prof. Otso Ovaskainen, prof. Tomas Roslin, assist. prof. Jarno Vanhatalo and dr Marjo Saastamoinen. The starting date is 1.1.2018, but a later starting date can be negotiated.

The overreaching aim of the Centre is to generate a coordinated analysis of long-term ecological data to understand impacts of global change. To unravel how populations and interactions between species in nature are responding to ongoing environmental change, the project takes advantage of the unique long-term datasets collected in Finland. The centre also develops state-of-the-art methodology for analysing long-term spatially structured data sets within a joint species distribution modeling framework. For more information on the Centre, please visit…/res…/research-centre-for-ecological-change

The salary of the successful candidate will be based on level 5 – 6 of the demands level chart for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities. In addition, the appointee will be paid a salary component based on personal performance. The starting
salary will be ca. 3300 – 3800 euros/month, depending on the appointee’s qualifications and experience.

The deadline for submitting the application is 7 October 2017.

A link to the University of Helsinki Recruitment System where applications can be submitted will be available after mid September at:…/res…/research-centre-for-ecological-change


We are seeking three post docs to analyse extensive ecological datasets. The successful candidates will take part in developing the specific research questions, and in linking spatial and temporal data on the abundance and distribution of species and on community composition to data on habitat structure, population harvesting, fragmentation, land use and/or weather. Examples of questions of interest include the role of environmental change on biodiversity in different habitats, on the spread of pests, disease, and invasive species, on the threat status of endangered species, and on potential mismatches in phenology among interacting species. The data and research questions concern both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The focus of the specific research questions can be modified in accordance
with the background and interests of the candidate. The successful applicant should have completed a PhD in ecology or a related field, and have a strong background in statistics, spatial statistics, and/or GIS. We seek candidates with excellent written and
verbal communication skills, and the ability to conceive, execute and complete research projects, and to think independently and creatively. The post docs will work as a part of a team at the Centre but also with researchers from other environmental institutes. Overall, excellent social skills are required for extensive collaborations. For more information, contact prof. Anna-Liisa Laine, prof. Tomas Roslin and/or Dr. Marjo Saastamoinen by email:
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected]


Jousimo, J, Tack, AJM, Ovaskainen, O., Mononen, T., Susi, H., Tollenaere, C. & Laine, A.-L. 2014. Ecological and evolutionary effects of fragmentation on infectious disease dynamics. Science, 344: 1289-1293.

Saastamoinen, M., Ikonen, S., Wong, S.W., Lehtonen, R. & Hanski, I. 2013. Plastic larval development in a butterfly has complex environmental and genetic causes and consequences for population dynamics. Journal of Animal Ecology 82: 529-539.

Schmidt, N., Mosbacher, J., Nielsen, P., Rasmussen, C., Hoye, T., & Roslin, T. 2016. An ecological function in crisis? – the temporal overlap between plant flowering and pollinator function shrinks as the Arctic warms. Ecography 39: 1250-1252. DOI: 10.1111/ecog.02261.


The post docs take part in the development of statistical methods for analyzing long-term ecological data and in statistical analyzes within the Research Centre for Ecological Change.

The methodological work focus on development of Hierarchical Modelling of Species Communities (HMSC) and hierarchical multivariate Gaussian processes. HMSC is a joint species distribution modelling framework that can be used for the statistical analysis of data on species occurrence, environmental covariates, functional traits and phylogenetic relationships. HMSC can be applied to hierarchical, spatial and temporal study designs, and it applies to many kinds of response data (presence/absence, counts, etc.). Gaussian processes are flexible and versatile modeling approach that are emerging to statistical ecology as tools for species distribution and population dynamics modeling. Gaussian processes are used to model spatial and spatiotemporal heterogeneity in data and describe species responses to
their environment in nonparametric manner. For recent methodological publications, see the reference list at the end. For the R and MATLAB implementations of HMSC, see the project’s

A successful post doc candidate will have experience in the development and application of Bayesian methods for computationally challenging problems. In particular, prior experience in multivariate generalized linear mixed models, factor models and/or Gaussian processes is highly valued. A successful candidate will also have experience in scientific computing. Prior experience in ecology is not necessary, but is counted as an advantage. The exact direction to which the post doc will develop HMSC and Gaussian process models can be agreed upon based on the experience and interests of the candidate.
For more information, contact prof. Otso Ovaskainen and/or assistant prof. Jarno Vanhatalo by email: [email protected], [email protected]


Ovaskainen, O., Tikhonov, G., Norberg, A., Blanchet, F. G., Duan, L., Dunson, D., Roslin, T. and Abrego, N. 2017a. How to make more out of community data? A conceptual framework and its implementation as models and software. Ecology Letters 20, 561-576

Ovaskainen, O., Tikhonov, G., Dunson, D., Grotan, V., Engen, S., Saether, B.-E. and Abrego, N. 2017b. How are species interactions structured in species rich communities? A new method for analysing time-series data. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284, 20170768.

Vanhatalo, J., Hosack, G. R. and Sweatman, H. (2017). Spatio-temporal modelling of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef to inform control strategies. Journal of Applied Ecology, 54:188-197.

Hartmann, M., Hosack, G. R., Hillary, R. M. and Vanhatalo, J. (2017). Gaussian process framework for temporal dependence and discrepancy functions in Ricker-type population growth models. Annals of Applied Statistics, in press:

Le contenu de cette offre est la responsabilité de ses auteurs. Pour toute question relative à cette offre en particulier (date, lieu, mode de candidature, etc.), merci de les contacter directement.

Pout toute autre question, vous pouvez contacter [email protected].