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Research Associate

Stockholm Environment Institute at York
Based at
University of York - Heslington Campus
Hours of work
Contract status
Fixed term
32,817- 40,322 a year (pro-rated for part-time working)
Interview Date
2 November 2020 (to be confirmed)
Posted Date
Apply by
Job Reference

Role Description


The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) within the Department of Environment & Geography is looking for an experienced researcher in ecological modelling, considering complex data analysis (experimental design) and predictive statistical models (trajectories for climate and management scenarios). The researcher will become part of the Peatland-ES-UK team and take part in one of the country’s leading upland peatland research projects.

Peatlands form the largest UK carbon stock and are vital for regulating atmosphere-climate feedbacks via sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Since the end of the last ice age several meters or peat bog have accumulated, locking away huge amounts of carbon. However, those carbons stocks are vulnerable to both climate change and management. Currently, large areas of the UK upland bogs are under grouse moor management. Such heather-dominated peatlands are frequently burnt on a rotational basis to encourage regrowth of young heather shoots on which red grouse feed. However, due to concerns about negative impacts on ecosystem functioning, burning has recently been restricted whilst alternative mowing or leaving areas unmanaged has been promoted.

The Peatland-ES-UK project was set up in 2012 to investigate management and climate impacts on heather-dominated upland blanket bog. The initial 5-year Defra-funded period was extended to 10 years with co-funding from water companies and various upland user groups. Several PhD projects are also associated with the project. The main aim is to compare vegetation (heather) burning to alternative mowing or leaving areas unmanaged. The project relies on a replicated BACI (Before-After Control-Impact) design around field work at three grouse moors in Northern England. Each site contains a burnt and a mown sub-catchment with further replicated plot-level management trials (e.g. brash removal). The project has gathered a considerable amount of field measurements on climate, stream flow, water table depth, vegetation dynamics, plant and soil carbon fluxes, greenhouse gas emissions and various peat physical and chemical parameters. The researcher will use these field data to identify the main drivers and interactions (e.g. climatic factors; vegetation composition; etc.), significant relationships and apply the statistical models to upscale and develop overall scenarios of management and climate impacts on various key ecosystem services (e.g. carbon storage, climate mitigation, water storage & quality, biodiversity). This project is at the forefront of holistic assessments of peatland functioning within the UK and it is envisaged that the researcher will contribute to communicate findings via reports to key stakeholders and high-profile scientific publications. SEI-York is part of a global network of SEI centres, which offers further possibilities to interact on related topics across various regions of the globe.

For more information on the project please see:; for more information about SEI-York see:; and for the Department of Environment & Geography see:


  • To conduct individual and collaborative research under the supervision of the project leader
  • To analyse project data and develop and apply statistical models
  • To identify key parameters driving ecosystem processes and relationships with measured parameters
  • To develop scenarios and predict possible trajectories of key ecosystem components and processes
  • To assist in the writing of reports and publications and contribute to outreach work
  • To contribute to the preparation of research proposals and applications to external bodies
  • To undertake basic organisational and administrative activities connected to the research project
  • To assist with occasional, basic field work aspects under the supervision of the research team

Skills, Experience & Qualifications needed

You will have an undergraduate degree in a biological, ecological, environmental or relevant mathematical discipline. You will also have a PhD in ecological modelling or equivalent mathematical experience.

You will have knowledge of, and research expertise in, ecology and ecological modelling as well as a range of statistical research techniques (experience in using R is essential) and modelling (some experience with C++ is desirable), and expertise in using R coding to explore and describe data, and test for effects and key factors.

You must have experience of carrying out both independent and collaborative research with an attention to detail and a commitment to high quality. You will be able to effectively plan and prioritise work in order to meet deadlines and use initiative to plan research programmes.  You must also be able to effectively and confidently communicate your research for publication and engagement in public dissemination.

You must display enthusiasm for the project with a commitment to personal development and the updating of knowledge and skills, and have a positive attitude towards colleagues and students.

This is a fixed term contract to 31 March 2022.

Interview date:  remote interviews on 2 November 2020 (to be confirmed)

For informal enquiries: please contact Andreas Heinemeyer on

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