PhD scholarship within applied quantitative ecology


Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management (MINA) at Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant 3-year PhD position in applied quantitative ecology, focusing on how tropical forest mammals use time as indicated by an unprecedented availability of systematic camera trap data from multiple sites and years across the tropics. The focus will be on analysis of pre-existing data rather than collecting field data.

The PhD candidate will work on an NMBU supported component of the larger project “Empty Forests and Extinction Filters” funded by the Research Council of Norway. The overall project, based on an extensive international collaboration, aims to improve understanding and prediction of species vulnerabilities to extinction through a rigorous evaluation of (pre-existing) data that includes millions of camera trap images and other systematic compilations (see  & 

The component undertaken by the successful candidate focuses on animal activity patterns. Goals include characterization of when and under what conditions each population of each species in each site is active (with regard to diel and lunar cycles, weather, etc). These patterns will allow a multi-site cross-regional comparison regarding how species partition time and an evaluation of how activity patterns are impacted by human interventions and other factors.

In a series of connected analyses studies, the PhD student, in collaboration with other members of the research team, will develop these results into four or more draft articles.

The preferred starting date for the positions will be June, 2020, but this is negotiable.

Main tasks

As part of the project, the PhD student is expected to:

  • Manage and work with large data sets and develop, apply, compare and document analytical approaches
  • Develop effective means to summarize, interpret and communicate findings to academic and non-academic audiences
  • Collaborate and communicate effectively with other team members and data providers
  • Lead the writing of research articles for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals
  • Promote the project and its findings to a wider audience through agreed outreach activities (e.g., blog posts, videos, conferences)

The successful candidate is expected to enter a plan for the progress of the work towards a PhD degree during the first months of the appointment, with a view to completing a doctorate within the PhD scholarship period.


We are looking for someone who:

The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are at master’s degree level. The applicant must have a documented strong academic background from previous studies and be able to document proficiency in both written and oral English. For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description.

The applicant must document expertise and interest in the research subject.

Required Academic qualifications:

  • Master’s degree in a relevant scientific area (e.g. ecology, wildlife biology, biometry).
  • Documented proficiency in written and spoken English.

The following experiences and skills will be advantageous:

  • Proven quantitative skills and, ideally, experience with both frequentist and Bayesian analysis
  • Familiarity with principles of animal and tropical forest biology, ecology and conservation
  • A demonstrated interest in ecological questions and concerns
  • Proficiency using the statistical programing language R
  • Experience working with large data sets
  • Experience with GIS applications and spatial analysis
  • (Co)authored at least one article in a peer-reviewed journal

You need to have:

  • Motivation to work as part of an effective international and multidisciplinary team
  • Strong willingness to work primarily analytically for the duration of the PhD project (there will be little opportunity for field work).
  • Interest in learning and developing new quantitative methods
  • Independence and self-motivation
  • Good communication skills

Remuneration and information

The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017 PhD Fellow. PhD Fellows are normally placed in pay grade 54 (NOK 479.600) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations.

Employment is conducted according to national guidelines for University and Technical College PhD scholars.

For further information, please contact Professor Douglas Sheil


Information for PhD applicants and general information to applicants


To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the ‘Apply for this job’ button above.

This will route you to the University’s Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Application deadline: 20.05.2020

Applications should include (electronically) a letter of intent, curriculum vitae, full publication list, copies of degree certificates and transcripts of academic records (all certified), and a list of two persons who may act as references (with phone numbers and e-

mail addresses). Publications should be included electronically within the application deadline. The relevant NMBU Department may require further documentation, e.g. proof of English proficiency.

Printed material which cannot be sent electronically should be sent by surface mail to the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Faculty of MINA, P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Ås, within 20.05.2020.Please quote reference number: 20/01473.

If it is difficult to judge the applicant’s contribution for publications with multiple authors, a short description of the applicant’s contribution must be included.

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