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Job-Art: Wissenschaftliche Jobausschreibungen

PhD Student Positions

Animal Eco-Physiology, Behavioural Ecology
University of Vienna / Vetmeduni Vienna


Two 3-year PhD positions: Animal Physiology and Behavioural Ecology

In the context of a research project financed by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the private research and animal conservation entity Waldrappteam (www.waldrapp.eu) is offering two PhD positions to investigate the costs and benefits of formation flight in birds using the northern bald ibis as a study species.

One PhD project will focus on energy consumption during migration flight, with the main question “Why do birds fly in formation?” While we believe to know the answer to this question (formation flight allows them to save energy), the specific challenge will be to provide direct empirical evidence for that assertion by quantifying how much energy the birds can save. This requires a candidate with a firm background in animal physiology.

The focus of the second PhD project is on social dynamics of formation flight, with the question “How do the birds in a formation co-ordinate and cooperate?” Concerning this question, there are many tentative suggestions but few empirical data at hand. In this context, we are seeking a candidate with an interest in behavioural ecology and/or flight mechanics and aerodynamics of birds.

Data for both PhD projects will be collected using high-resolution GPS devices and heart rate loggers fitted to free-flying birds. In addition, we plan to conduct respirometry measurements with birds in the lab. Achieving this will be technically demanding and requires a readiness for tinkering around with sensors and electronic devices and spending a lot of time handling and analysing large data sets (programming experience in Python, Matlab, or any comparable environment will be a plus).

The research project is aligned with an ongoing European LIFE+ reintroduction scheme by Waldrappteam and partners, which aims to establish a self-sustaining migratory northern bald ibis population in Europe. More information about this project can be found here: www.waldrapp.eu. The research project will mainly take advantage of the annual human-led migrations with human-imprinted juvenile birds. The research project will be managed by Waldrappteam in Mutters, Tyrol, though the PhD candidates will be based in Vienna, affiliated either with the University of Vienna or the Veterinary University of Vienna (to be decided based on interest and academic supervision).

The research project includes several months of field work in summer and autumn, during which the researchers will stay with the birds at field camps in Austria, Germany or Italy or follow the birds during the autumn migratory journey throughout these countries. German language skills are not required but a willingness to learn basic German will facilitate living in Austria and positively affect social life. Payment will be according to the salary scheme of the FWF (yearly gross pay of approx. 37.000 Euro, for three years).

Please send your application letter together with a motivation statement, your CV and contact details of one or two reference persons (reference letters are not required for the initial application) to: bvoelkl(at)waldrapp.eu. We encourage applications of people with unusual career tracks. Applicants from non-EU countries will have to ensure that they are eligible to work in Austria (for the time being, the UK still counts as part of the EU). Please indicate your preferred and earliest possible start date in the application letter.

Application deadline: March 18th 2018; Project start: May 2018. For informal enquiries please contact Dr. Bernhard Voelkl at: bvoelkl(at)waldrapp.eu.


Name: Bernhard Voelkl

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