Ledig stilling ved UNIS

PhD research fellowship in Spatial Ecology of the Svalbard reindeer

Deadline: 24.11.2019

Flere stillinger:



UNIS is the world's northernmost educational institution, located in Longyearbyen. UNIS has technical and scientific equipment, laboratories and infrastructure well suited for teaching and research in Arctic natural science and technology for sea, land and atmosphere. The disciplines include Arctic Biology, - Geophysics, - Geology and - Technology. All courses are taught in English, and about half of the staff and students are from abroad. UNIS is a state-owned corporation.

Longyearbyen is located in Svalbard, in the midst of a varied and beautiful Arctic nature with good opportunities for outdoor activities. Longyearbyen is a modern town with approx. 2200 inhabitants and has a good service offering including kindergartens, swimming / sports hall and a varied association, sports and cultural life.

The department of Arctic Biology at UNIS is seeking candidates for a full-time, 4 year position as a PhD fellow in Spatial Ecology. Currently the department constitutes 3 professors, 4 associate professors, 6 PhD students/postdocs, 9 Adjunct Professors (20% position) and 2 technical/administrative staff. The department conducts research and education in Arctic marine and terrestrial biology, and currently provides 22 courses on bachelor, master and PhD level. The department focuses on an integrated approach to High Arctic biology. Additional information about the department can be found at www.unis.no

Description of the vacant position

The PhD project will focus on linking “energy landscapes” to individual variation in fitness of Svalbard reindeer in a warming Arctic. The spatial use of animals can be quantified through the concepts of energy landscapes. Construction of energy landscapes can clarify whether, to what extent and how movement properties are attributable to landscape heterogeneity. For large herbivores, such as the Svalbard reindeer, energy landscapes are often compartmentalized into “heat-scapes” mapping the thermal regime, and “food-scapes” mapping the distribution of food. In Arctic regions. The latter is strongly influenced by “snow scapes” through restriction of forage accessibility and movement in winter. If related to the fitness outcome, rather than cost of movement, spatial use of the Svalbard reindeer may provide us with mechanistic understanding of density dependent versus independent factors, critical seasons, as well as how different phenotypes are constrained by different aspects of the energy landscapes.

The candidate will utilize comprehensive spatio-temporal long-term individual-based data of wild reindeer in the Reindalen and Brøggerhalvøya populations, including annual observation of winter body mass, reproduction and survival of known-aged individuals. Specific objectives of the PhD study are (1) Quantification of two types of energy landscapes, the summer “heat-scape”, and both summer and winter “food-scape” (including “snow-scape”) experienced by Svalbard reindeer; (2) Estimate phenotypic differences in the ability to improve their fitness by moving in their summer and winter energy landscapes; and (3) Investigate if there has been an increase in importance of summer energy landscapes, and in particular density dependent components over time.

The successful candidate will be required to carry out research involving statistical analyses of spatial reindeer data (GPS) and activity data in relation to landscape characteristics, present research findings at scientific conferences, collaboration with other team members (MSc students, other PhD students researchers) and take part in field work in Svalbard to obtain an understanding of the study system.

The PhD will be based at the Department of Arctic Biology (UNIS), but the candidate will be admitted to the PhD program at the Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). Professor Mads Forchhammer (UNIS) will be the main supervisor, with Professor Leif Egil Loe (NMBU) and Dr. Åshild Ønvik Pedersen (Norwegian Polar Institute) acting as co-supervisors.

Qualifications and personal qualities

Applicants must hold an MSc degree or the equivalent in a relevant field, such as spatial ecology, or must have submitted his/her MSc thesis for assessment prior to the application deadline. It is a condition of employment that the MSc degree has been awarded.

The candidate must have strong quantitative skills and experience in using the statistical software R. Specifically, experience with relevant statistical modelling within the fields of spatial ecology is required. Applicants must be able to work independently and in a structured manner, demonstrate good collaborative skills along and be proficient in both written and spoken English. Additionally, experiences in field work in the Arctic, scientific writing including authorship of scientific publications as well as an interest in climate change effects and behavioural ecology are advantageous.

Motivation and personal suitability will be emphasized. To allow assessment of this, a statement of personal and scientific interest in taking a PhD degree, including an outline of a PhD project idea (letter of motivation, see below) must be included in the application.

Employment conditions/about the research training

The total duration of the PhD position is 4 years, of which 25% comprises teaching duties at UNIS. The employment potentially includes some supervision duties of MSc students.

All salaries are set in accordance with the Norwegian government's University salary scale. PhD candidates are paid in salary steps 54, which is a gross salary of NOK 472 300.-. As a resident in Svalbard an annual allowance of NOK 34 560.- (Svalbardtillegg) will be added to the salary. A Social Security contribution of 2 per cent, to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund, will be deducted from the salary. Income tax on

Svalbard is 8 per cent, plus 8, 2 per cent toward National Insurance coverage.

About the research training

The candidate must satisfy the enrolment requirements for the doctoral degree programme at Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). A final plan for the implementation of the research training must be approved by the faculty within three months after starting in the position.

Selection and appointment

A committee appointed by the Managing director of UNIS will evaluate the qualifications of the applicants, and invite the highest ranked person(s) for an interview. The appointment will be made by the Director of UNIS based on the recommendation from the committee.


Inquiries about this position may be directed to:

  • Professor Mads Forchhammer, phone: +47 79023337, email: [email protected], or to
  • Head of Department of Arctic Biology, Professor Børge Damsgård, phone: +47 93003314, email: [email protected]

The application, submitted electronically in www.jobbnorge.no, must include:

  • Letter of motivation including outline of possible PhD project (total max 2 pages)
  • CV (including a complete overview of education, professional training and professional work)
  • Name and contact information for two or more referees
  • Transcripts and diplomas showing completion of the bachelor's and master's degrees, or official confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted
  • Relevant certificates/academic references
  • A list of any works of a scientific nature (publication list)
  • Any peer review publications in your name

The application and appendices with certified translations into English or a Scandinavian language must be uploaded in Jobbnorge.

You can request to have your application kept from public access cf. the open files act § 25. The request must be explained. UNIS will determine if the application will be kept from public access or not, based on the explanation and the regulations from the open files act. If the application will not be accepted, the candidate will be contacted.

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