PhD position for the eEcoLiDAR project, UvA

PhD position for the eEcoLiDAR project, UvA

University of Amsterdam

For more information visit the website of UvA


The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics is one of eight research institutes of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam. The institute covers a wide range of subjects in both fundamental and applied research. Our scientific studies aim at a better understanding of the dynamics of ecosystems at all relevant levels, from genes to climate change, using a truly multi-disciplinary approach. The research will be carried out in the group of Computational Geo-Ecology, which is a multi-disciplinary research group aiming at understanding how the environment affects the dynamics and diversity of ecosystems at various temporal, spatial and hierarchical scales. The mission is to promote and facilitate big-data and computationally intensive ecological research, what we call ‘e-Ecology’.

Job description

Supported by an eScience grant from the Netherlands eScience Center, we have a vacancy for a PhD candidate on a project entitled: ‘eEcoLiDAR, eScience infrastructure for Ecological applications of LiDAR point clouds: reconstructing the 3D ecosystem structure for animals at regional to continental scales’.

Distribution and abundance of many animals depends on the complexity of vegetation, but high-resolution measurements of 3D ecosystem structures across broad spatial extents are largely lacking. In this project, we aim to fill this gap by using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to characterize the vertical and horizontal complexity of vegetation and landscapes at high resolution across regional to continental scales. We will use massive amounts of LiDAR point clouds to classify objects such as trees, forests, vegetation strata, edges, bushes, hedges, and reedbeds. These newly LiDAR-derived 3D ecosystem structures will then be applied in species distribution models for animals in forests, marshlands and agricultural areas to better understand animal-habitat associations across Europe.

This PhD-project will apply and develop multi-scale object-based image analysis (OBIA) for the interpretation of LiDAR point clouds, including data storage, scalable computing, tools for machine learning and visualization (feature selection, annotation / segmentation, object classification, and evaluation). The project is supported by an eScience engineer who will develop a workbench that supports the workflow for handling, storage, and interactive object-based image analysis (OBIA) of massive amounts of LiDAR point cloud data using state of the art point cloud processing tools. In addition to developing the OBIA methodology, the PhD candidate will use the classified 3D ecosystem structures for species distribution modelling.

Partners of the research project include the Netherlands eScience Center and Ruud Foppen from Radboud University with his link to the Sovon Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology and the European Bird Census Council, as well as a network of scientists working on LiDAR, remote sensing, computing, ecology and biodiversity.

  • A Master’s degree in ecology, environmental or Earth sciences (or closely related discipline);
  • interest in remote sensing, macroecology and computation;
  • experience with relevant techniques, e.g. object-based image analysis (OBIA) and analysis of LiDAR point clouds;
  • good computer, programming and statistical skills;
  • willingness to work as part of a multidisciplinary team;
  • proficiency in scientific writing.
Further information

For a short description of the project:


The position will start as soon as possible. The full-time appointment will be on a temporary basis for a maximum period of four years. Initial appointment will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of four years. The full-time gross monthly salary will range from €2,191 in the first year to €2,801 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD candidates. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable. The annual salary will be increased by 8 % holiday allowance and 8.3 % end-of-year bonus.

Job application

Applications should include a detailed CV, a motivation letter, and the names and contact addresses of two references from which information about the candidate can be obtained.

Applications should be sent before 25 February 2017 to Please quote vacancy number 17-033 in the subject field. Interviews will be held with short-listed candidates.


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