Technical Consultant for data discovery and mobilization on land-use and biodiversity change in Arabic-speaking countries


German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)


Monday, August 5, 2019

Start Date

Sunday, September 1, 2019

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Changes in agriculture are an important reason for changes in biodiversity and ecosystems. For a better understanding of these effects, and to advance sustainable development across the world, it is crucial to have detailed information on changes in both agriculture and biodiversity. Many Arabic-speaking countries are experiencing rapid changes in agricultural land-use, with potentially strong impacts on biodiversity. Yet, in the global databases that Western scientists have put together to study these changes, this region is underrepresented. This can be explained by language barriers and differences in scientific and civil culture between scientists and practitioners from both regions. To help bridge this gap and to contribute to a better understanding of the effects of agricultural changes on biodiversity in Arabic-speaking countries, we offer an exciting position as technical consultant at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), an interdisciplinary and collaborative working place. The project is supervised by Dr. Carsten Meyer (iDiv’s Macroecology & Society group) in collaboration with Dr. Roel van Klink (iDiv’s synthesis centre), Prof. Jonathan Chase (iDiv’s Biodiversity Synthesis group), and Prof. Nico Eisenhauer (iDiv’s Experimental Interaction Ecology group). 


Your main duty will be the discovery and collation of data on biodiversity and land-use change in Arabic-speaking countries, with a focus on regions that are currently underrepresented in global scientific databases. The data you will seek include datasets on biological communities (e.g., from ecological field studies on plants, birds, insects and earthworms) as well as datasets on land-use and land management (e.g., census statistics on agriculture and forestry, spatial data on land tenure). After short introductory training, you will initially focus on “remote” data discovery via online searches of (mostly) Arabic-language databases, scientific and grey literature (reports), and statistical yearbooks. You will harmonize and integrate these datasets into scientific databases to support ongoing research projects on the biodiversity impacts of land-use change. You will contribute to the development of a collaborative network by establishing contacts with data holders via email and/or telephone and soliciting written data requests (in Arabic). You will furthermore plan and carry out an extended trip (2-3 months in early-2020) to several Arabic-speaking countries (for example, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE), where you will work together with local contact points (for example, at university libraries, NGOs, and governmental agencies such as statistical offices or environmental/land administration agencies), to access offline databases and non-digital literature. You will be fully integrated into the research project. Occasionally, you will be asked to perform other project- related tasks (e.g. contributing to its administrative management). 


You are a state certified technician or have an equivalent degree and experience. You have excellent Arabic-language skills in written and spoken form. Strong English-language skills are also expected. Knowledge of other languages used in the study region will be an advantage, but is not a prerequisite. We seek candidates who can traverse intercultural boundaries and communicate in a highly professional manner with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds. Personal cultural ties to an Arabic-speaking country, and/or prior experience working in the region will be an advantage. You are highly motivated to contribute to a large database compilation effort; this requires attention to detail, tenacity, and tolerance to frustration. You can work independently over extended time periods and take responsibility for the success of your project. You have excellent organizational and time-management skills. While this is not a prerequisite, any prior experience in working with a programming language (e.g. R), GIS (e.g. QGIS), or a database program (e.g. MySQL, PostgreSQL, MS Access) would be beneficial. Personal interest in relevant fields (e.g. Ecology, Agriculture, Forestry, Environmental Management, Land administration or similar) is advantageous. Your place of work is the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig. Note that this position entails extended travel to several Arabic-speaking countries. A valid passport from a country permitted to travel to these countries is required.

Contact Name

Dr. Carsten Meyer

Contact Email