PhD Position: Effects of Global Warming and Pollution on Trophic Interactions in Pond Food Webs


PhD Position: Effects of Global Warming and Pollution on Trophic Interactions in Pond Food Webs

Deadline: January 16, 2017

Reference: (Ref. DOCO-2016-111)

Location: KU Leuven



This PhD topic belongs to the call(s) stated below. Before applying, please check if you are eligible to the programme. For more information about required qualifications and application procedure, please visit the call webpage:


For the Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity Conservation Section we are looking for a motivated PhD student interested in combining fundamental and applied research questions in Biology to join a research team working on aquatic ecosystems.



The research team of Prof. Robby Stoks is embedded in the Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Evolution and Conservation and is part of a Centre of Excellence at the KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium). This offers large opportunities for training and collaboration, and excellent rearing and experimental facilities. This group has ample expertise in research on aquatic ecology, evolution and ecotoxicology. We integrate in our studies a diversity of techniques and approaches including experimental evolution, space-for-time substitutions, structural equation modelling, outdoor mesocosm experiments, behavioural studies and ecophysiological assays. For a list of publications, see Website unit



The selected PhD student is expected to develop experiments with damselfly larvae (predators) and Daphnia water fleas (prey) under different temperatures and pollutant levels to test how global change will shape predator-prey interactions and food-web stability in ponds. The focus will be on how both increases in temperature means and extremes, and pollution shape trait values (both through plastic and evolutionary responses) in both predator and prey and how this translates into changed interactions in pond food webs. Besides a strong experimental component there is opportunity to develop a modelling part to test how thermal regimes and pollution shape the strength of species interactions and the long-term stability of pond food webs.



We are looking for a candidate who holds or will soon receive a Master degree in Biology or related field. Proficiency in English language is required as well as a positive attitude to collaborate within an international team of scientists with various nationalities. Experience with ecological or evolutionary work, and interest in applying mathematical models is appreciated. Above all, candidates should be keen to learn new techniques, and interested in both fundamental and applied aspects of ecology and evolution.



We provide a stimulating research environment and the ability to run innovative experiments with genetically different sets of both predator and prey populations (obtained from different latitudes and experimental evolution trials). Experimental facilities include walk-in climate rooms, temperature-controlled incubators, an outdoor heated mesocosm facility and very well equipped laboratories for ecophysiological analyses.


The PhD position is for 4 years. The starting date is 1 October 2017.


KU Leuven is one of the leading research universities of Europe.


You will work in Leuven, an historic, dynamic and lively city located in the heart of Belgium, within 20 minutes from Brussels, the capital of the European Union, and less than two hours from Paris, London and Amsterdam.



For more information please contact Prof. dr. Robby Stoks, tel.: +32 16 32 37 10, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than January 16, 2017 via the

online application tool


Downloads : pdf

Kunlere Idowu

Kunlere is an environment and sustainable development strategist with years of active experience in environmental compliance monitoring and enforcement. You may follow him on Twitter via @kunlere_idowu


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