Post doc in marine species distribution modelling in New Zealand

Posted: 17 June 2020

Closing: 15 July 2020

Category: Non MASTS

We seek a Postdoctoral Research Fellow to contribute to the project ‘Not too hot, not too cold, just right: New models of species’ responses to their environment’, funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Marsden Fund. Applications close: 15 July 2020 (11:45pm, New Zealand Standard time).

Project Overview

Earth’s environments are changing at unprecedented rates, yet, despite burgeoning available on‐line data repositories of ecological and environmental data, most ecologists are ill‐equipped to quantify species’ responses effectively or predict consequences for biodiversity. Current models of species’ responses to broad‐scale spatio‐environmental gradients (such as temperature, latitude, depth, nutrients, moisture, or elevation), are either overly simplistic (linear, quadratic or Gaussian), or they are a “black box” without meaningful interpretable parameters. The aim of this project is to create flexible models that combine new nonlinear mathematical functions for mean species’ response curves with modern statistical error distributions for abundance, biomass or functional traits, also incorporating inter‐species associations. This framework will be used to quantify and predict global‐scale responses of ecological communities to environmental change.

Position Overview

We are seeking a motivated and innovative researcher, keen to make their mark in the field of quantitative ecology. The ideal candidate will have a PhD in biology, ecology, statistics or a related discipline, and will have experience in community ecology, biodiversity, ecological statistics, multivariate statistics, nonlinear models, data wrangling, quantitative data analysis, macroecology, applied mathematics, computer programming and species distribution models. Applicants with subsets of these skills are also encouraged to apply. A clear track record of recent publications in international journals is expected. The appointed Fellow will:

  • seek out, download, clean and integrate relevant data from local, global and online data repositories, documenting responses of species (representing a wide variety of taxa, e.g., fish, plankton, birds, trees, etc.) to a wide variety of broad‐scale spatio‐environmental gradients (e.g., depth, latitude, elevation, nutrients, temperature, etc.).
  • use recently developed nonlinear statistical models to quantify species’ distributions along gradients, as well as changes in these distributions through time, with a special focus oncharacterising responses to global climate change.
  • contribute to the development of new multivariate techniques to model and characterise joint responses of multiple species to multiple environmental gradients simultaneously.

Academic achievements will go hand‐in‐hand with the development of R code and user‐friendly software. The appointee will also be encouraged to supplement and extend the primary research objectives of the project with their own research objectives. They will also be expected and supported to publish and present their findings via international conferences and high‐impact journals. A high level of proficiency in written and spoken English is required.

Position Specifics

The position is three years, starting in September 2020 or earlier (a later start date may be negotiated for an exceptional candidate). The Fellow will be joining a dynamic team of researchers working at the frontiers of applied statistics and ecology: Distinguished Prof. Marti J. Anderson (Primary Investigator, Director of PRIMER‐e, and Chair in Statistics, Massey University), Associate Professor Winston L. Sweatman (Associate Investigator, School of Natural and Computational Sciences, Massey University) and Mr Andrew Punnett (Lead Software Engineer, PRIMER‐e). The Fellow will be based at the offices of the boutique research and software development company, 2 PRIMER‐e, located at Massey University’s Albany campus on the North Shore of Auckland, New Zealand, alongside world‐class researchers in the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study (NZIAS). This region boasts a wide variety of beautiful and accessible outdoor recreational areas (including the Hauraki Gulf, and many nearby islands, beaches, and forest parks), while also enjoying easy access to the heart of the city of Auckland – New Zealand’s largest and most culturally diverse city.

To Apply:

Please send the following:

  • a cover letter outlining your expertise and suitability for this position;
  • your complete and up‐to‐date CV; and
  • the contact details for three referees

no later than 15 July 2020 via email to: Ms Lyn Shave, Company Administrator, PRIMER‐e (Email: lyn@primer‐

Enquiries regarding the funded project and the specific role of the Fellow should be directed to Distinguished Professor Marti J. Anderson (Email: marti@primer‐

Information about PRIMER‐e and its mission can be found at: www.primer‐