Postdoc on Genomics-based Population Demographic Histories for Megafauna

Institution/Company:
Aarhus University
Location:
Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark
Job Type:
  • Postdoctoral (2 years)
Degree Level Required:
PhD, or have submitted their PhD thesis for assessment before the application deadline
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Postdoc on Genomics-based Population Demographic Histories for Megafauna

Large-bodied mammal species (megafauna) are ecologically important, but have decline worldwide across the last 50,000 years or more under pressure from hunting, habitat loss etc., with these declines still ongoing in many regions. In consequence, megafauna species have special attention in nature conservation and ecosystem restoration. At the same time, there are many unanswered questions about past megafauna population dynamics, their drivers (notably climate vs. human impact), and, linked to this, uncertainties about restoration targets. This postdoc project will address this key knowledge gap through reconstructing population demographic histories for a large number of mammal species worldwide, contrasting megafauna and smaller species. Whole genome sequence data is publicly available as raw data for numerous megafauna species, often from multiple individuals. Such data contain a rich source of information on past demographic changes that can be extracted using population genetics approaches. This bioinformatics project will be based on existing data, and key elements in the work will be to locate and curate the data available such that it can be aggregated in a homogenized database for subsequent population demographic reconstructions to be coupled with relevant ecological modelling. The postdoc is expected to contribute ideas and concepts to the project and lead the development of at least two high-quality papers based on the project, contribute to the project’s public outreach and teaching, as well as collaborate with other team members, including students, sharing skills, and helping solve problems in her/his area of expertise.

We are offering applicants an exciting opportunity to join Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World (BIOCHANGE). BIOCHANGE aims to address one of the key challenges facing humanity – how to conserve the diversity of life on a planet heading towards 11 billion inhabitants and facing strong climate change in order to safeguard our natural and cultural heritage, quality of life, the numerous ecosystem services on which society depends, and even the basic functioning of the biosphere. Ecological science is key to overcoming this challenge, and BIOCHANGE works towards this goal via basic research on fundamental Anthropocene ecological dynamics, climate change impact predictions, scenarios, and mitigation options, Big Data ecological approaches, and interdisciplinary perspectives on human-nature relations and solutions.

Responsibilities:

  • To locate and curate genome sequence data
  • Aggregate data in a homogenized database
  • Conduct population demographic reconstructions to be coupled with relevant ecological modelling
  • Contribute ideas and concepts to the project
  • Lead the development of at least two high-quality papers based on the project
  • Contribute to the project’s public outreach and teaching

Qualifications:

Applicants must have PhD degree in bioinformatics, population genetics or quantitative biology (or equivalent), or have submitted their PhD thesis for assessment before the application deadline. Expertise in large-scale bioinformatics analyses is required and familiarity with population genetics principles for inference on population demographics is a great advantage. Experience with ecological niche modelling and interest in megafauna, ecology, and conservation are also an advantage. The successful candidate is expected to have strong collaborative skills, proven abilities to publish at a high international level, and have good skills in English and international applicants who do not have English as their first language must prove strong English language writing skills and fluency.

Additional Information

Starting Date and Period: The position is for 2 years and is available from August 1, 2021. Application deadline is April 1, 2021

Who we are: Project PI prof. Jens-Christian Svenning will be the main supervisor. The postdoc will join Svenning’s VILLUM Investigator team within the Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World (BIOCHANGE) and the Section for Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity (ECOINF). BIOCHANGE is a center of excellence focused on improving our understanding, predictive capacity, and responses to the ongoing and future dynamics in biodiversity under global change. ECOINF harbors strong expertise in macroecology, remote sensing, and megafauna and vegetation ecology, as well as in ecology and biodiversity broadly. Together BIOCHANGE and ECOINF constitute an ambitious, collaborative and highly international research community. Postdocs and PhD students are encouraged to collaborate within the group, across departments and with other universities. More information about the people and research activities of the group can be found at here and here. The project will be carried in collaboration with professor Mikkel H. Schierup, Bioinformatics Research Centre (BiRC), a leading expert on population genomics and bioinformatics as well as head of a high performance computing system that will be available for the project.

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