Research Associate: Soil biodiversity and agriculture


The Senckenberg Nature Research Society (SGN) is an institution of the Leibniz Association with almost 800 employees in total. It operates six internationally leading research institutes located in seven federal states with its main headquarters in Frankfurt am Main. The SGN also administers the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Grube Messel". For the BMBF project, “BonaRes - Centre for Soil Research,” the Senckenberg Nature Research Society is inviting applications to its institute in Görlitz (Museum of Natural History (SMNG)) in the Department of Soil Zoology for a Research Associate (m/f/d) on soil biodiversity and agriculture.

Within the framework of the research program “Soils as Sustainable Resource for the Bioeconomy - BonaRes,” launched by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the central project “BonaRes - Centre for Soil Research“ is being funded for a further 3 years, with a total planned period up to 2023. Aims of this project are the provision of soil-related data in standardized form, the development of integrative model tools to evaluate land-use options regarding their sustainability, and to develop a web-based portal for knowledge-based options for farming strategies and soil-use management based on the models. To face these challenges, an interdisciplinary group of scientists has been established from the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), the Technical University of Munich, the Senckenberg Nature Research Society (SGN), the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) and the University of Giessen. The research associate will help this team elucidate and quantify the effects of agricultural methods on soil animal communities. The position will search, review and analyze (via meta-analyses) literature information on the effects of different agricultural methods (primarily concerning tillage and fertilization regimes) on the soil fauna, preferably at a species- and functional-group level (focusing on, i.e., Lumbricidae, Enchytraeidae, Nematoda, Collembola). The results of the meta-analyses will be included in models of agricultural methods on soil functionality. While a basic knowledge of soil animals and biodiversity analyses is necessary, fieldwork and animal determination is not intended.

The possibility of incorporating the research into a Ph.D. dissertation is possible. Post-Docs are welcome to apply.

Your tasks:

  • Collation of data on agricultural effects on soil faunal biodiversity from scientific literature

  • Meta-analyses and assessments of literature data on agricultural effects on soil fauna

  • Identification of functional groups (based on character traits) of soil fauna (i.e. Lumbricidae, Enchytraeidae, Collembola, Nematoda) affected by agricultural measures

  • Establishment and preparation of quantified soil-biological functional data for models, preparation and provisioning of such data in database systems

  • Preparation of project reports; representation and presentation of the project at conferences etc.

  • Writing high-quality publications on the project content

Your profile:

  • Minimum of a master degree in soil ecology with a thorough knowledge of soil fauna

  • Working knowledge of agricultural and soil-management methods

  • Basic knowledge of meta-analysis statistics, i.e. mixed effects models

  • Familiarity with transdisciplinary research environments, especially in the area of soil (biodiversity) research

  • Publication experience, excellent written and oral presentation skills

  • Outstanding command of spoken and written German and English

  • Willingness to travel (project meetings, conferences)

  • Integration, team-work, resilience and load-carrying abilities

Salary and benefits are according to the German public service position (TV-L E13, up to 100% depending on salary grade within TV-L 13)

The position can start on September 1 st, 2019 and will be initially limited till the end of the project. The position is suitable for part-time.

The employer is the Senckenberg Nature Research Society; the place of employment is Görlitz, Germany. Senckenberg supports equal opportunity of men and women and therefore strongly invites women to apply. Equally qualified handicapped applicants will be given preference.

Are you interested? Please send your application before August 18th , 2019 (application deadline) by e-mail (attachment in a single pdf document), mentioning the reference of this position (Ref. #08-19009) and including a letter outlining your suitability, a detailed CV, educational transcripts, contact details of 2 references and a list of publications to:

Prof. Dr. Willi Xylander, c/o Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz

PF 30 01 54, 02806 Görlitz