ESR 11 advert

Title: Operational definition of soil quality: soil fauna-microorganisms interactions and the delivery of ecosystem services.

Start/End: July 2012 – June 2013

Place: University of Coimbra, Portugal

Value per month: 2780,33€


Operational definition of soil quality: soil fauna-microorganisms interactions and the delivery of ecosystem services. Soil fauna plays an important role in soil functioning (and in provisioning of Ecosystem services) by acting as facilitator in many biological processes via their close interaction with microbial communities in soil. Therefore soil fauna is used as indicator of soil quality. However, traditional indicators of soil fauna diversity, mainly structural indicators, may not accurately represent soil quality on a functioning perspective.  This project will work on a new approach for soil quality indication. Over three years the candidate will be analysing soil fauna diversity on a functional perspective (using a trait-based approach), and by linking levels of functional diversity with key microbial parameters and indicators of soil processes, the candidate will develop a synthetic index of soil quality that could act as a indicator for ecosystem service provision. The selected candidate will use a combination of trait-based approach and high throughput technologies and extraction methods to develop DNA based functional biodiversity analysis methods on soil mesofauna. Moreover, the candidate will be trained in state of the art molecular methods to evaluate microbial diversity and activity of particular microbial groups. Research will be developed based on soil samples will be provided from a number of trans European test sites.

Profile of applicants:

We are looking for an expert in soil ecology, preferably with experience in using molecular and biochemical techniques. The candidates should have: (1) M.Sc. in, ecology, microbiology, biochemistry, molecular biology or similar relevant discipline; (2) Experience on soil fauna sampling and identification and on DNA and protein isolation methods; (3) Fluency in English; (4) Ability to engage in teamwork within the group and our collaborators.



Recruiting is in accordance with the European rules for Marie Curie Initial Training Networks. Early-stage researchers can be of any nationality. They must be, at the time of recruitment by the host organisation, in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree. This is measured from the date when they obtained the degree which would formally entitle them to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the research training is provided, irrespective of whether or not a doctorate is envisaged.

Furthermore, at the time of recruitment by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the reference date. Short stays such as holidays and/or compulsory national service are not taken into account.

It is expected that the selected candidate will be enrolled at the Biosciences PhD programme at the University of Coimbra. 

Selection method:

Evaluation of the CV (mainly the experience in the area) and motivation letter. It could be complemented with na interview

Selection criteria:

Eligibility criteria of Marie Curie Initial Training Networks apply. Only applicants who comply with these conditions will be considered. Details can be found on


Academic degree (MSc on the scientific area of the grant - 2 points; no MSc or MSc in other scientific areas  - 0 points); Experience in the scientific area of the grant (highly relevant experience - 4 points; relevant experience - 2 points; non-relevant experience - 0 points); Motivation letter (Very Good - 4 points; Good - 2 points; Not good - 0 points); Published articles (Article in ISI journals - 2 points per articl; Article in non ISI journals - 1 point per article); Knowledge of English language (Very good - 2 points; Good - 1 point; Fair - 0 points).


The application, together with appendices requested should be e-mailed as a single PDF-file to Professor José Paulo Sousa ( Please include in the subject field "your name - TRAINBIODIVERSE: Operational definition of soil quality: soil fauna-microorganims interactions and the delivery of ecosystem services".

In addition, a signed hardcopy of the application must be posted to:

Professor José Paulo Sousa, Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, P3004-517 Coimbra, Portugal.

The deadline for applications is 31-05-2012 at 12:00 noon CET.

Applications received after the deadline, or with insufficient documentation or otherwise not complying with the above requirements, may not be considered. 

Documents to deliver:

The application must be prepared in English language and contain the following documentation:

•Motivated letter of application

•Curriculum vitae

•List of publications

•Transcript of university examinations (in English)

•Contact details of 2 persons for references