Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, is an internationally networked aquatic research institute within the ETH Domain (Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology). Eawag conducts research, education and expert consulting to achieve the dual goals of meeting direct human needs for water and maintaining the function and integrity of aquatic ecosystems.
The Department of Fish Ecology and Evolution (FishEc) located in Kastanienbaum (Lucerne) has a vacancy for a
PhD student in Evolutionary Ecology of Fish Migration
Applicants should have or anticipate finishing an MSc or similar before the summer 2020 in a relevant field of biology, ecology, or environmental science and a strong interest in evolutionary ecology, life history variation, and animal/fish migration.

Movement is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of animals, and the movement of individual organisms is integral for many vital ecological and evolutionary processes. Migration is one of nature’s most spectacular forms of animal movement and has a long and illuminating scientific history, with exciting new discoveries year after year. Centuries of research on animal migration have highlighted that migratory individuals most often show distinct adaptations to the migratory travel and profit from temporally changing relative benefits of alternative habitats. However, being migratory also means experiencing natural selection in at least two different habitats, which differ between populations. Unfortunately, our knowledge on adaptation to a migratory life style is typically limited to adaptation to the migratory travel per se and we are only starting to understand the migratory diversity within- and between meta-populations. Such knowledge is crucially needed in order to understand the ecological dynamics of natural selection over space and time and for sustainable management of populations and diversity.

The current project aims to investigate diversity of partially migratory brown trout meta-populations around the largest lakes in Switzerland. Hundreds of brown trout populations around the twenty largest Swiss lakes perform partial migrations from their natal streams to the foraging ground in the lakes, before returning to their natal streams for reproduction. Populations differ in their timing of migration, e.g. in terms of years spent in stream before migration, years spent in the lake before first return migration and seasonal timing, and in their foraging ecology in the lake environment. This variation is expected to be partly plastic and ontogenetic and partly genetically determined.

Our study system allows testing for drivers of diversity within populations, between populations within a meta-population and between meta-populations. The PhD-student will analyse this diversity with a combination of age/growth-, dietary- and genetic analyses and will additionally conduct PIT tag studies to track migration patterns and survival of juvenile brown trout. The project is linked to an applied project on structure and management of partially migratory trout populations, which generates a number of synergies and allows for knowledge transfer from basic scientific questions to management. The PhD-student will focus on the scientific questions in the project.

The position is funded for four years and will be hosted by the River Fish Ecology group, led by Dr. Jakob Brodersen within the FishEc Department and the Section of Aquatic Ecology at University of Bern. Excellent communication and writing skills in English and ability to work in a team are essential. Communication skills in German and/or French is a benefit, but not a requirement for the position.

The work place is at Eawag’s Center for Ecology, Evolution and Biogeochemistry (CEEB) in Kastanienbaum, Lucerne, which besides the Fish Ecology and Evolution Department hosts research group from the Department Surface Waters – Research & Management and offers a beautiful workplace at the shores of Lake Lucerne, a friendly international working climate and a strong cross-disciplinary research environment. Both departments within CEEB share a common interest in understanding the principles of the functioning of aquatic ecosystems and their susceptibility and adaptability to changing environments, and a common concern for sustainable management of ecosystems and biodiversity. Each department on its own aims at contributing cutting edge science to the development of theory in ecology, evolution and environmental sciences. Building on the synergies that emerge between these fields, the CEEB aspires to contribute to a future synthesis of evolutionary biology and ecosystem science.

Eawag offers a unique research and working environment and is committed to promoting equal opportunities for women and men, independent of ethnicity, and to support the compatibility of family and work. Applications from women are especially welcome. For more information about Eawag and our work conditions please consult www.eawag.ch and www.eawag.ch/en/aboutus/working/employment.

Applications must be submitted by December 19th 2019 and should include an application letter describing your interests and their relevance to this position, a CV and the names and contact information for two references. The starting date for the position should optimally be between February and July 2020. For further information, please contact Jakob Brodersen.

We look forward to receiving your application through this webpage, any other way of applying will not be considered. Please click on the button below, this will take you directly to the application form.
Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology