Postdoc on Conservation Prioritization in South American Dry Forests


Humboldt University Berlin


Sunday, October 15, 2023

Start Date

Monday, January 1, 2024

The successful applicant will focus on conservation priority areas for dry forests in the South American Chiquitania and Gran Chaco. These ecoregions are global hotspots of deforestation and defaunation and are in dire need of conservation planning. In this context, the successful candidate will develop and implement new spatial prioritization approaches to better represent land-use actors, dynamic threats, and dynamic landscapes in area-based conservation planning. This will involve taking stock of concepts and tools from Land System Science, as well as of the rich land use and biodiversity data available to our team. The new prioritization approaches will be tested on real-world conservation problems, working closely together with local academic partners and conservation organizations in Germany, Argentina, and Bolivia. The candidate will join the research team working on the project SystemShift, funded by the European Research Council (ERC). This project brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers to develop and test new conservation planning approaches by integrating Land System Science and Conservation Science. The project focuses on tropical dry forests and savannas globally, with case studies in the South American Chiquitania and Gran Chaco regions.

The candidate will join the Conservation Biogeography Lab ( in the Geography Department. The group seeks to carry out cutting-edge research to understand where and why land use is changing, how these changes impact biodiversity, and which strategies can effectively balance conservation goals and land use. Our research approach brings together concepts and methodologies from geography, spatial ecology, social science, conservation planning, econometrics, and remote sensing. We collaborate intensively with researchers and research institutions worldwide, and we are active contributors to a range of international science networks such as FutureEarth’s Global Land Programme or different IUCN initiatives. We strive to collaborate closely with local conservation organizations and stakeholders. We do this in the hope of producing a scientific basis that can inform conservation policy-making, planning, and action to help navigate land systems toward sustainable futures. The working language of the group is English.

We seek a candidate with a PhD in conservation, ecology, geography, or related fields. We expect a strong background in conservation science, excellent quantitative skills regarding working with complex spatial data, and in spatial data handling and analyses in R. Highly desirable skills are expertise in the theory and practice of conservation planning, and experience with spatial prioritization tools (e.g., prioritizeR, Marxan with Zones, Zonation). Experience in conservation planning and working with stakeholders, regional experience, expertise in scripting languages beyond R (e.g., GDAL, Python) and Spanish language skills would be beneficial. We generally expect an excellent command of the English language, good communication skills, and readiness to work in an international research team.