The Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) is a member of the Helmholtz Association (HGF) and funded by federal and state government. AWI focuses on polar and marine research in a variety of disciplines such as biology, oceanography, geology, geochemistry and geophysics, thus allowing multidisciplinary approaches to scientific goals. PhD position (m/f/d) in plankton ecology and climate change

Planktonic organisms are at the base of aquatic food webs and, while being crucial organisms for healthy ecosystems, they are particularly sensitive to environmental change. The impact global change has on planktonic organisms, may in turn alter ecosystem services such as nutrient turnover, provision of food to higher trophic levels, and carbon sequestration/export. The goal of this PhD is to evaluate the combined influence of warming and dissolved nutrient concentrations on trophic interactions between zooplankton and their prey.

Indeed, temperature affects metabolic rates, and thereby nutritional demands, whereas nutrient availability influences resource quality. Hence, we expect that currently ongoing shifts in environmental conditions may create nutritional mismatches in planktonic food webs. The PhD candidate will address this topic by conducting experiments with planktonic organisms to assess the temperature conditions that may promote nutrient limitation in various zooplankton groups, and how nutritional mismatches impact food web interactions. Tasks

  • Conduct laboratory grazing experiments with microzooplankton and mesozooplankton; as well as mesocosm experiments with natural plankton communities
  • Investigate how zooplankton demands for energy and nutrients change with temperature
  • Analyse feeding preferences of zooplankton at different temperatures, and quantify the pressure exerted by zooplankton on different prey groups
  • Compute nutrient budgets by analysing nutrients recycled by zooplankton
  • Evaluate complex datasets, and present research results to experts and non-experts (scientific journals, conferences, workshops)


  • Master degree (or equivalent) in Aquatic Sciences
  • Strong background in Aquatic Ecology/Marine Biology
  • Working experience with plankton ecology including plankton culturing
  • Strong team player skills
  • Strong communication skills in English language written and oral

Further Information
Please contact Dr. Cedric Meunier (;
+49(4725)819-3143) for further information. This position is limited to 3 years. The salary will be paid in accordance with the Collective Agreement for the Public Service of the Federation (Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes, TVöD Bund), up to salary level 13 (66%). The place of employment will be Helgoland. All doctoral candidates will be members of AWI’s postgraduate program POLMAR or another graduate school and thus benefit from a comprehensive training program and extensive support measures. The AWI is characterised by

  • our scientific success – excellent research
  • collaboration and cooperation – intra-institute, national and international, interdisciplinary
  • opportunities to develop – on the job, aiming at other positions and beyond AWI
  • a culture of reconciling work and family – an audited and well-supported aspect of our operation
  • our outstanding research infrastructure – ships, stations, aircraft, laboratories and more
  • an international environment – everyday contacts with people from all over the world
  • having an influence – fundamental research with social and political relevance
  • flat hierarchies – facilitating freedom and responsibility
  • exciting science topics, with opportunities also in technology, administration and infrastructure

Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. The AWI aims to increase the number of female employees and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply. Disabled applicants will be given preference when equal qualifications are present. The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family in various ways and has received a number of awards as a result of this engagement. We look forward to your application!
Please submit your application by Auguts 2nd 2022, exclusively online.
Reference number 22/96/G/INSPIRES-b Apply now online

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