PhD positions

PhD position: ‘A cross-continental analysis of the habitat requirements for stable black-tailed godwit Limosa l. limosa populations in Europe’

Job description

Birds breeding on wet grassland are suffering major population declines all over Europe. The populations of black-tailed godwit, Limosa limosa ssp limosa suffer from intensification of farming as well as from agricultural land abandonment across the breeding range. While we have a relatively good understanding of the mechanisms that underlie population dynamics of black-tailed godwits in the core breeding area in north-western Europe, we know little about other areas in Europe. In this project we aim to collect the ecological knowledge that is required to design a European, cross-continental strategy for the sustainable conservation of black-tailed godwits. The specific questions that will be examined in this project are (i) What relation exists between land use intensity and the density of black-tailed godwit breeding pairs? (ii) What relation exists between land use intensity and black-tailed godwit chick survival? (iii) What cues do black-tailed godwits use to start laying eggs? The work involves intensive collaboration with research groups that work on this species in different European countries. The thesis will be equally based on new data collected in the field and on the analysis of the existing data collected by the cooperation partners. The PhD project will be supervised jointly by the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu, Estonia (Olavi Kurina, Hannes Pehlak) and Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands (David Kleijn).


We are looking for an enthusiastic science-driven candidate with a master’s degree in Biology, Ecology or Ornithology. The successful candidate should be motivated to pursue a scientific career and to travel a lot. Because of the planned intensive international collaboration, good communication skills in speech and in writing are required. Experience with (1) ecological studies on birds, (2) field studies abroad, (3) statistical analyses of complex field-based data and (4) publishing in international peer-reviewed journals will be considered important benefits.

What we offer

A full-time appointment for a period of 12 months with extension of 36 months. Preferred starting date of February 2017. Payment is 844 euros per month net. Applications are to be submitted via email before January 16th 2017 to Hannes Pehlak, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Department of Zoology: Applications should include a letter of motivation and a CV.

Additional Information

M.Sc. Hannes Pehlak

Phone: +372 7383012


Estonian University of Life Sciences

Prof. Dr. David Kleijn
Phone: +31 (0)317-485807



Photo: Reet Sau