PhD Position in the Effect of Climate Change on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functions in Ponds

Catholic University of Leuven Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Evolution and Conservation


A PhD position is available at the Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Evolution and Conservation in the research group of Professor Luc De Meester ( at KU Leuven within the EU Horizon 2020 project PONDERFUL (


The project’s overarching aim is to develop improved methods for maximising the use of ponds and pondscapes in climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity conservation and the delivery of ecosystem services (

Small standing water bodies, such as ponds, are the most numerous freshwater bodies and strongly contribute to biodiversity and vital ecosystem services. 
In spite of their great importance, ponds are largely neglected in water-and nature related policies and strategies. While ponds are exposed to the same threats facing larger waters, they may be particularly vulnerable to climate change. As biodiversity value and ecosystem servicesdelivery are likely to dramatically change with the ecological status of ponds,there are important feedbacks to consider. 
The main aim of the research in PONDERFUL will be to increase understanding of the ways in which ponds, as a Nature-Based Solution (NBS), can help society to mitigate and adapt to climate change, protect biodiversity and deliver ecosystem services. This important and innovative project brings together experienced researchers from nine European states and from Turkey and Uruguay.

This project involves highly standardized field studies and targeted case-studies investigating interactions and feedbacks between pond biodiversity, ecosystem services and climate change.
The PhD research will (1) quantify the importance of ponds for protecting freshwater biodiversity at multiple spatial scales(from local to regional and landscape scales), (2) asses how pond biodiversityis associated with local environmental conditions, and (3) assess how pond biodiversity is associated with regional and spatial drivers such as climate,landscape connectivity, and land use intensity. 
Our team has excellent researchfacilities with well-equipped laboratories. Additionally to the practical work,the candidate will analyze and publish the results.


We are looking for a highly motivated and ambitious PhD student with an excellent academic record, work ethics and strong proven interest in (meta community) ecology. 

European union associated master’s degree (EER – Switzerland) in biology or similar (bio-engineers,environmental sciences) is required. 
A very good command of both spoken and written English is required. 
A driving license for cars is highly recommended.


We offer a full-time job initially for a periodof one year, but extendable to four years pending good evaluation. 

Willingnessto also apply for personal funding through a fellowship is a prerequisite. 
Youwill be embedded in an international, enthusiastic and dynamic team with ampleexpertise in using freshwater ponds as model systems to address key questionsrelated to the outlined work ( Leuvenis a nice historical university city with a very high and pleasant standard ofliving. T
he historic university, founded in 1425, has a top research andteaching standard ( 
KU Leuven featuresconsistently in Europe's top-15 universities and has been elected by Reuters asmost innovative university in Europe for three years in a row.


Meer informatie is te verkrijgen bij prof. dr. Luc De Meester, tel.: +32 16 32 37 08, mail: of de heer Pieter Lemmens, tel.: +32 16 37 36 91, mail:

Solliciteren voor deze vacature kan tot en met 31/03/2021 via onze
KU Leuven wil een omgeving creëren waarin alle talenten maximaal tot ontplooiing kunnen komen, ongeacht gender, leeftijd, culturele herkomst, nationaliteit of functiebeperking. Hebt u vragen in verband met toegankelijkheid of ondersteuningsmogelijkheden, dan kan u ons contacteren via
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: March 31, 2021
  • Tags: Biologie

In your application, please refer to


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