Job Announcement
University of Greifswald, Zoological Institute and Museum

PhD position in responses to changing environments in bats -
Ecological drivers and genetic consequences of range expansion

Application deadline: 19.01.2018

The Zoological Institute and Museum at the University of Greifswald invites applications for a PhD position within the Research Training Group RESPONSE:

Starting date: April 1st 2018.

Duration: 3 years.
Salary: German salary scale (TV-L 13, 65%).

B6: Ecological drivers and genetic consequences of range expansion in lesser horseshoe bats 

Sébastien Puechmaille & Gerald Kerth, Zoological Institute & Museum 

Thesis topic: Environmental and social factors influencing dispersal and colony formation in R. hipposideros

Background: The European vertebrate fauna is highly dynamic due to both historical climatic variation and anthropogenic pressures. The ability of a species to track climatic changes by range shift is expected to be a major determinant of extinction risk (Science 313: 789). For some species, such as the Palearctic bat species Rhinolophushipposideros, regressions and advances are quite well documented and represent unique opportunities to study how and why range limits move. Such dynamic range boundaries can be observed at the Northern edge of the current distribution of R. hipposideros, regions in which models of climate change predict a northward progression of this species during the next decades (Global Change Biol. 16: 561). Here we will investigate colonisation and colony formation via dispersal in the focal species, study trade-offs / associations between dispersal and life history traits, and elucidate factors influencing dispersal, paying special attention to social and environmental factors. 

Goals of the projects: Interconnected wild colonies at the Northern edge of the species’ range will be surveyed in Germany and combined with data already obtained from France (via associated partner E. Petit). Droppings will be collected from all colonies and genotyped using available microsatellite loci (protocol already optimised), allowing for individual identification and pedigree reconstruction. Non-invasive genotyping over consecutive years in the colony networks will be used to estimate demographic parameters (i.e. population size, population growth, vital [births, deaths] and dispersal [emigrations, immigrations] rates). Temperature and humidity will be monitored throughout the year within and outside the colonies, and habitat characteristics around the colonies will be mapped (Corine Land Cover). The project will focus on associations between realised dispersal and reproductive rate as well as on the influence of population density, social and environmental factors on dispersal and colony formation. Specifically, we will test the following hypotheses: (1) Dispersal (threshold trait) and dispersal distance are heritable traits; (2) individuals from newly formed colonies consistently exhibit higher dispersal rates and invest more into reproduction (due to less intense intraspecific competition in new colonies); (3) dispersal distance is influenced by habitat quality and availability. The obtained results will be used to parametrize a hybrid correlative/mechanistic model to predict range expansion in the species. This study will be carried out in collaboration with local conservation agencies and Dr. E. Petit, INRA (Rennes, France). 

Required skills: 

  • The candidate should have (or at least be willing to develop) skills in population dynamics and population genetics, landscape ecology, management/treatment of geo-referenced databases (GIS), 
  • Good writing skills (in English; this is very important), 
  • Good knowledge of German (speaking; required for the fieldwork), 
  • Knowledge of statistics, 
  • Good knowledge of programming in R (important), 
  • Experience with fieldwork (preferentially with bats) will be an advantage but is not mandatory, 
  • Driving license and willingness to use own car for field-work, 
  • Good organizational skills and ability to work in a team (incl. with NGOs)

To apply, please visit our website:

Applications (application form, CV, degree certificates, motivation letter, two recommendation letters) can be sent to:,, Forms and more information can be found here:

© 08.01.2018 Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft e.V., DZG