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 in “Dynamic modelling of Ecological Networks” (m/f/d)

The food web methodology ecological network analysis (ENA) provides candidate indicators for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive but is largely static from a temporal perspective and cannot handle environmental changes.

This project aims to change the biomass and physiology of ENA components based on environmental dependencies in order to trace changes in the ecological network. In a dynamic coupling with the ocean model FESOM-C, we will test the effects of increasing temperatures on the functioning of the food web, a necessary step towards an ecosystem model to include the entire food web along with the complex physical environments of coastal regions.


  • Identify available dependencies of phytoplankton and zooplankton physiology rates on temperature.
  • Introduce these dependencies to available ENA models of the Sylt-Rømø Bight and validate the response.
  • Establish a holistic, dynamic representation of the food web in the Sylt-Rømø Bight.
  • Create a simple coupled ecosystem numerical platform.
  • Assess the dynamic response of ENA indicators to abiotic changes.


  • Master’s or diploma degree in theoretical ecology, physical oceanography, or a related field
  • Good programming skills
  • Experience with ocean numerical solutions
  • Knowledge of ecological functions
  • Experience in handling large data sets
  • Good skills in written and spoken English

Further Information

For further information, please contact Dr. Sabine Horn (; +49(4651)956-4218) or Dr. Vera Fofonova (; +49(471)4831-1722).

The 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 Sylt.
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 July 17th 2022, exclusively online. Reference number 22/101/G/INSPIRES-b


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