PhD Position in orientation behaviour of migratory songbirds - Inst. of Avian Research Wilhelmshaven, Germany

PhD Position in orientation behaviour of migratory songbirds - Inst. of Avian Research Wilhelmshaven, Germany

PhD Position in orientation behaviour of migratory songbirds

Institute of Avian Research “Vogelwarte Helgoland”, Wilhelmshaven, Germany

A PhD position in orientation behaviour of migratory songbirds is available at the Institute of Avian Research “Vogelwarte Helgoland”, a non-university research centre in the portfolio of the Lower Saxonian Ministry of Science and Cultural Affairs. The position runs from January 2019 to December 2022 and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the recently approved collaborative research centre (SFB 1372: “Magnetoreception and navigation in vertebrates: from biophysics to brain and behaviour” hosted by the University of Oldenburg).

The PhD position will be embedded within a larger collaborative group comprising 16 principle investigators, 5 postdocs and 16 PhD students mainly based at University of Oldenburg but with partners at Institute of Avian Research Wilhelmshaven, Ruhr University Bochum, Caesar Bonn, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology Plön, University of Oxford, England, and Weizmann Institute of Science Tel Aviv, Israel. You will become part of a large team working closely together on related questions and you will have access to a very wide range of superb modern equipment, techniques and expertise. You will be further provided with exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and academic networking, together with structured training, scientific exchange and early career support programs. More details about the SFB can be found at

The aim of the PhD project (sub-project Nav02: “Assessing magnetoreception and navigation-hypotheses in free flying birds”) is to conduct an extensive field experiment with free-flying migratory songbirds on the island of Helgoland in the North Sea for four years and to test the mostly discussed hypotheses of magnetoreception by manipulating the radical-pair and/or the magnetic-particle-based mechanism in birds. Birds will be exposed to treatment in cages and their immediate free-flight response will be radio-tracked by digital radio-telemetry stations.

Main responsibilities

• conducting field experiments on Helgoland from early August to end of November during four years,

• analysing highly complex radio-tracking data derived from a large-scale array of multiple radio receiving stations (location estimates based on bi-/triangulation),

• statistical analyses of complex and large data sets (including circular data),

• tight collaboration with other scientists of the collaborative research centre and

• writing scientific publications

Applicant’s profile

We seek a smart and highly motivated student with

• a university degree in a relevant discipline with specialization in behavioural ecology, ornithology, orientation/navigation,

• experience with ornithological field work, including ringing, preferably with songbirds,

• high motivation for intensive field work on Helgoland from early August to end of November each year,

• strong experience with the statistical software R (including modelling and programming!),

• interest in orientation/navigation and movement ecology questions,

• ability to work both independently and creatively and as part of a team and

• excellent oral and written communication skills in English



The position is available from January 2019 to December 2022 and paid according to TVL E13 (http:// with 65% of the regular work hours. The place of work will be at the institute’s headquarters in Wilhelmshaven and on Helgoland. Regular meetings with members of the SFB 1372 will be held at the University of Oldenburg.

The Institute of Avian Research is an equal opportunity employer, determined to increase the proportion of women in successful scientific careers. If equally qualified, disabled applicants will be preferably considered.

Applicants must send a single pdf file via e-mail containing a cover letter with statement of motivation, CV, list of publications, concise statement of research interests, the names and addresses of at least three professional referees, and copies of transcripts and degree certificates by 10 December 2018 to heiko.schmaljohann(at) We will start looking at the applications as soon as they are submitted and will consider further applications until the position is filled. For further questions contact PD Dr. Heiko Schmaljohann per e-mail or phone (+49 4421 9689 39). For details on the application process please refer to





Fully funded PhD cand. pos. in Organismal Biology - Int. Max Planck Research School for Organismal Biology

Fully funded PhD cand. pos. in Organismal Biology - Int. Max Planck Research School for Organismal Biology

Fully funded PhD candidate positions in Organismal Biology

The International Max Planck Research School for Organismal Biology, a joint cooperation between the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology with its two research sites in Seewiesen and Radolfzell and the Department of Biology at the University of Konstanz, is seeking for PhD Candidates (f/m). For 2019, the IMPRS offers various fully-funded PhD projects focusing on olfactory coding, sexual development, glucocorticoid-metabolism interaction, species delimitation, social behaviour, and other exciting research questions in the field of Organismal Biology (see!

Field of work

The aim of the IMPRS is to provide first-class training and education for outstanding doctoral students from all over the world in a stimulating research environment. More than 30 scientists work on a variety of topics from animal migration, collective behaviour, computational ecology, evolutionary genetics, neurobiology, sensory systems, social interactions and other related fields. Research includes lab and field work using different model organisms from plants, insects, fish, birds and mammals, as well as diverse techniques from animal tracking, large scale data analysis, molecular genetic analyses, optical imaging or social network analysis.


We invite applications from all countries and from a wide range of backgrounds (biology, engineering science, physics, computer science). Applicants must have graduated from a minimum 4-year study program with a comprehensive scientific thesis work (this might be a Master's degree or an equivalent degree). It is not necessary to hold the degree at the time of application. However, you must have been awarded your degree prior to the start of the program.

The quality of the degrees (i.e. eligibility) will be checked by University of Konstanz on a case-by-case basis.

Candidates need to be fluent in written and spoken English and - unless native speakers - have to document their proficiency in English (e.g. TOEFL).

Our offer

All PhD projects are fully funded for at least 3 years. Besides their own research, the IMPRS fellows attend laboratory courses and workshops in relevant transferable skills like scientific writing and project management. Talks by invited speakers during our annual IMPRS symposium, student retreats, and conference participation complete the individually tailored curriculum.

Your application

You can only apply via the three-tier electronical application process on the Institutes webpage. Please do not send any other type of application by regular mail or email as they will be rejected. The application must be completed in English only. Besides the online application form, we need several documents from you. Documents that are not in English or German need to be translated. You need to upload all the required documents as one single pdf-file.

The Max Planck Society and the University of Konstanz are equal opportunity employers and are committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in their workforce and therefore we encourage applications from such qualified individuals. Furthermore, we seek to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

Application deadline is January 15, 2019. Please only apply via

IMPRS for Organismal Biology

Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Am Obstberg 1, 78315 Radolfzell / Eberhard-Gwinner-Str., 82319 Seewiesen, Germany

University of Konstanz, PO Box 639, 78457 Konstanz, Germany


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