First sDiv Call for Catalyst Postdocs is now closed!

The first sDiv Call for Catalyst Postdocs is now closed!

Thank you very much for handing in very interesting proposals. sDiv will get back to you very soon as the review process will take some time. We very much appreciate your patience!

Decisions for fourth sDiv call

Following our fourth sDiv call, we received many proposals of very high scientific quality. After discussion of the internal and external reviews, the sDiv Board decided to fund ten working groups, two individual postdoc positions and one sabbatical position.

Funded working groups

sECURE - Separating Environmental Changes and their effects on community traits in European butterflies
main PI's: Oliver Schweiger, Josef Settele

sPRED - Synthesizing Predictability Research of Ecological Dynamics
main PI's: Frank Pennekamp, Alison Iles

sToichNutNet II - Linking ecological stoichiometry with environment-diversity-productivity relationships in grasslands
main PI's: Elizabeth Borer, Anne Ebeling

sFDvent - A functional trait perspective on the global biodiversity of hydrothermal vent communities
main PI's: Amanda Bates, Abbie Chapman

sMonodominance - Monodominance workshop
main PI's: Andreas Huth, Kelvin Peh

sAPROPOS - Analysis of PROjections of POpulationS
main PI: Roberto Salguero-Gomez

sTeleBES - Telecoupled use of biodiversity and ecosystem services: synthesis of concepts, methods and evidence
main PI's: Matthias Schröter, Thomas Koellner

sCAP - Testing the conservation value of phylogenetic diversity
main PI's: Arne Mooers, Caroline M. Tucker

sWORM - A global soil biodiversity database and its application to data synthesis and theory development
main PI's: Erin Cameron, Nico Eisenhauer

sPlot - Plant trait-environment relationships, biodiversity and invasion patterns across the world's biomes
main PI's: Jürgen Dengler, Oliver Purschke

Funded individual postdocs

Duarte S. Viana
Spatial scaling in the assembly and diversity of biological communities

Katharina Gerstner
From plots to landscapes – Towards a mechanistic understanding of land-use effects on biodiversity across spatial scales

Funded sabbatical project

David Currie
A continental theory of biogeography: predicting geographic variation in species richness and range size

Decisions for third sDiv call

Following our third sDiv call, we received many proposals of very high scientific quality. After discussion of the internal reviews, the sDiv Committee decided to fund nine international workshops and two individual Postdoc projects:

Workshop projects:

"Quantifying biodiversity change through time (sChange)”
main applicants: Sarah R. Supp  (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Maria Dornelas (University of St. Andrews)

"Towards understanding the causes and consequences of epigenetic diversity (sEpiDiv)”
main applicants: Katrin Heer and Lars Opgenoorth (both University of Marburg

"Scaling shrub expansion from site to biome Manuscript finalization working group" (sTUNDRA II)"
main applicants: Isla H. Myers-Smith (University of Edinburgh) and Anne Bjorkman (iDiv)

"Global Changes in Marine Plankton Diversity and Productivity (sMarD)"
main applicants: Aleksandra M. Lewandowska (University of Oldenburg) and Boris Worm (Dalhousie University)

"Community Assembly and the Functioning of Ecosystems in Open Systems (sCAFE)"
main applicants: S.K. Morgan Ernest (Utah State University) and Mathew Leibold (University of Texas at Austin)

"Synthesis on Pollen Limitation and Terrestrial biodiversity (sPlat)"
main applicants: Tiffany Knight (Washington University, iDiv), Tia-Lynn Ashman (University of Pittsburgh) and Janette Steets (Oklahoma State University)

"Linking ecological stoichiometry with environment‐diversity‐productivity relationships in grasslands (sToichNutNet)"
main applicants: Elizabeth Borer (University of Minnesota) and Anne Ebeling (University of Jena)

"Expanding Neo-Chessonian coexistence theory towards a stochastic theory for species rich communities (sNiche)"
main applicants: Thorsten Wiegand (UFZ) and Stan W. Harpole (iDiv)

"Functional Information: its potential for quantifying biodiversity and its relation to ecosystem functioning. Function, Information and Biodiversity (sFIND)"
main applicants: Keith Farnsworth (Queen’s University Belfast) and Ivo Große (University of Halle/ Saale)

Individual postdoc projects:

"Drivers of plant diversity across spatiotemporal scales: integrating ecological, evolutionary and environmental processes”
Postdoc: Juliano Sarmento Cabral (University of Göttingen)

"Assessing extinction: Crossover of geometrical, macroecological and Bayesian perspectives”
Postdoc: Petr Keil (Charles University in Prague)

Decisions for second sDiv call

Following our second sDiv call, we received many proposals of very high scientific quality. After discussion of the internal reviews, the sDiv Committee decided to fund five international workshops:

"Synthesising Trait Evolution in Plants (sTEP)"
main applicants: William D. Pearse
and Jeannine Cavender-Bares (both University of Minnesota)

"Next Generation Models for Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity (sESMOD)"
main applicants: Elena Bennett
(Mc Gill University); Gretchen Daily (Stanford University)

"Ecotoxicology for B-EF research: experimental design of aquatic multi-trophic experiments (sEcoToxDiv)"
main applicants: Frederik De Laender
(University of Namur); Paul Van den Brink (Wageningen University)

"Can ecological network information improve the efficacy of biodiversity conservation for ecosystem services in the face of unavoidable uncertainty? (sErvices)"
main applicants: Laura E. Dee
and Steven D. Gaines (both University of California, Santa Barbara)

"Unifying marine and terrestrial biodiversity at the interplay of macroecology, macrophysiology and macroevolution (sWEEP)"
main applicants: Miguel Ángel Olalla Tárraga
(Rey Juan Carlos University); Ignacio Morales Castilla (Universidade de Evora)

Decisions for first sDiv call

Within our first sDiv call for workshops, various projects are funded.

Funded workshops:

sPlot - Plant trait-environment relationships across the world's biomes ("Trait-vegetation")
main applicants: Helge Bruelheide, Oliver Purschke
associated postdoc: Jürgen Dengler

sImpact - Impact of invasive alien species: prediction and quantification
main applicant: Sabrina Kumschick

TRANs-BEE - Synthesising transcriptome data to explore interspecies bee-pathogen molecular interactions that may underpin pollinator decline “trans-bee”
main applicants: Christina M. Grozinger, Robert J. Paxton
associated postdoc: Vincent Doublet

sTOICHFUN Stoichiometric constraints of biodiversity – functioning relationships StoichFun
main applicant: Helmut Hillebrand
associated postdoc: Aleksandra Lewandowska

rangeShifter - Synthesising population, community, genetic and evolutionary dynamics in a simulation platform: a tool for theory and application
main applicant: Justin Travis
associated postdoc: Alexander Singer

ECOTRON - Next generation biodiversity manipulation: Technical requirements for an ecotron platform
main apllicants: Stefan Meldau, Nico Eisenhauer

sTability - Plant diversity effects on ecosystem resistance to and recovery from perturbations
main applicants: Nico Eisenhauer, Forest Isbell
associated postdoc: Dylan Craven

sOILDIV - A framework to improve our understanding of the distribution of global soil biodiversity: establishing the first quantitative synthesis
main applicant: Diana H. Wall
associated postdoc: Kelly S. Ramirez

sREGPOOL - Biodiversity across spatial scales - linking macroecological models to local-scale biodiversity patterns by explicit delineation of the regional species pool Biodiversity and spatial scale - the regional species pool link
main applicants: Dirk Nikolaus Karger, Jens-Christian Svenning

sFOSSIL - Integrating Phylogenies, Fossils and Earth System Dynamics
main applicants: Jan Schnitzler, Andreas Mulch

TRY - Towards a sustainable archive and sharing-mechanism for plant trait data: Refining the TRY initiative TRY 3.0
main applicant: Jens Kattge

sTUNDRA - Tundra ecosystem change: Scaling shrub expansion from site to biome
main applicants: Isla H. Myers-Smith, Sarah C. Elmendorf
associated postdoc: Anne Bjorkman

sCoMuCra - Species communities harboring the outcome of plant diversification: museums and cradles (CoMuCra)
main applicant: Andreas Prinzing
associated postdoc: Benjamin Yguel

sTREEDIV - Using Tree Diversity as an Insurance for the Stable Functioning of Forest Ecosystems
main applicants: Andy Hector, Bart Muys
associated postdoc: Simon Bilodeau-Gauthier

Physiodiv - Biodiversity meets Physiology – Physiology meets Biodiversity
main applicant: Christian Wilhelm

sPHY - Synthesizing phylogenetic measures for ecology and conservation
main applicants: Marc W Cadotte, Dan F Rosauer

sMGI - 3rd Mycorrhizal Genomics Initiative
main applicants: François Buscot, Sylvie Herrmann


Funded individual postdocs:

How does biodiversity affect ecosystem functioning and community stability:a meta-analysis of ecotoxicological stress experiments on freshwater communities
Viktoriia Radchuk

Niche, neutrality and the maintenance of biotic diversity in a changing world
Stefano Larsen

General information about the sDiv framework

1   About iDiv

The central mission of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle - Jena - Leipzig is to promote theory-driven synthesis and data-driven theory in biodiversity sciences and to provide the scientific foundations for the sustainable management of biodiversity. iDiv is one of seven National Research Centres with nine Professorships, the graduate school yDiv, a strong Bioinformatics, IT and Outreach unit and the Synthesis Centre for Biodiversity Sciences (sDiv). iDiv itself is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG FZT 118). It is located in the city of Leipzig, jointly hosted by the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU), the Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg (MLU), the Leipzig University (UL), and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ. It is additionally supported by the Leibniz Association, the Max Planck Society, and the Free State of Saxony.

iDiv’s four key questions and corresponding research areas are:

  1. How can we reliably quantify and understand the state and change of biodiversity across space and time in response to natural and anthropogenic drivers? (Research area A “Biodiversity Patterns”)

  2. What are the evolutionary and ecological processes generating and maintaining biodiversity? (Research area B “Biodiversity Processes”)

  3. What is the role of biodiversity in regulating ecosystem functioning and provisioning of services to humanity (Research area C “Biodiversity Functions”)

  4. How can biodiversity be integrated in the management of our planet’s resources and how can we safeguard biodiversity (Research area D “Biodiversity and Society”)

2   sDiv – the tool to create synergy

Addressing these questions and integrating their answers into a comprehensive theory of biodiversity and successful real-world applications represent a major technological and intellectual challenge. To meet this challenge, iDiv will conduct and promote excellent science as well as explore new territory with respect to communication structures and outreach. One of our main measures taken to ensure close collaboration between theoreticians, empiricists, and practitioners inside and outside of iDiv is the establishment and maintenance of networks within the scientific community and with the public. Fostering collaboration between scientists across the world is one of the central tasks of sDiv, which is embedded within iDiv (Figure 1).


                                                      Figure 1: Structure of sDiv and the global scientific community of biodiversity research.
                                             sDiv comprises working groups with their meetings, up to six postdoc positions, and a sabbatical programme.

Building upon experience gained in other successful synthesis programs, we have established sDiv to offer national and international working groups, postdoc positions and a sabbatical programme. sDiv is an important instrument of iDiv to foster theoretical and synthetic thinking in biodiversity sciences by bringing together researchers from different projects and disciplines and by providing conditions that promote the creative process.

Though a stand-alone construct, sDiv is physically integrated into the active research centre of iDiv, with over 150 scientists, covering a wide spectrum of modern integrative biodiversity research. The core of the iDiv philosophy is that of synergy, which is achieved by interaction between sDiv visitors and resident scientists. Formally, this is achieved by inclusion of at least one iDiv member in each working group and by mandatory reporting sessions open to all iDiv scientists during the course of each working group meeting. Interaction within and beyond the working group members is promoted by an informal get-together with iDiv researchers after the seminar and with white boards and sofas in open spaces etc. We hope that sDiv visitors will bring in fresh ideas and views and may be interested in collaboration with iDiv scientists beyond the scope of their working group. The body of resident scientists in turn represents a unique concentration of expertise in biodiversity science, and sDiv visitors are encouraged to approach them for help and discussions.

sDiv-funded working groups can organize one to three meetings over a period of one to two years. Moreover sDiv supports postdoctoral (either being working group postdocs or having their individual projects – including catalyst postdocs) and sabbatical fellows.

Together with a large group of international synthesis centres, sDiv is part of the informal International Synthesis Consortium. We aim to develop close cooperation across centres in the upcoming years, to include a mutual consultancy, exchange of applications and evaluation tools and, most importantly, joint meetings, particularly with respect to projects of high societal relevance.

Additionally, sDiv is a partner of a cross-continental collaboration between the US-based Socio-environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and the Germany-based Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). As a result of this collaboration, six working groups were successfully funded over two years under the thematic umbrella ’Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’.

sDiv is coordinated by Dr. Marten Winter, a scientist with a strong background in biodiversity research, supported by a dedicated administrative team. sDiv is supported as a top priority by iDiv’s General IT Support Unit, the Bioinformatics and Biodiversity Informatics Unit and the centre’s administration.

As part of our equal opportunity policy, iDiv provides an option for flexible childcare while you are attending the meetings or, in case of a longer stay, while you are waiting for other childcare options like kindergarten etc. If you have any further questions regarding this subject, please contact the sDiv coordinator.

To sum up, iDiv of which sDiv is part of, is a great place to do biodiversity science: extremely skilled and open-minded scientists, highly international, a very interactive and fruitful atmosphere, and last but not least being situated in Leipzig, a great place to live or visit and one of the “must-see places” according e.g. to NY Times (2010).

3   Instruments and selection criteria

The sDiv advisory board consists of 12 members, being leading biodiversity scientists, representatives of each of the four iDiv founding institutions (FSU, MLU, UL, UFZ), the sDiv coordinator and the iDiv Managing Director. The board will evaluate applications for working groups and postdocs, either directly or by inviting external ad-hoc reviews from experts in the field. The sDiv board is appointed by the iDiv directorate and the sDiv board members.

  • Working groups and meetings

All working group meetings take place at the iDiv centre in Leipzig.

Working groups are expected to produce outputs during and after their meetings. Working groups are composed of 10 to 15 (maximum 20) participants and to meet for 4 or 5 full working days up to two weeks. Meetings should allow a sufficient time devoted to product-focused work on e.g. manuscripts, 3rd party proposals or policy briefs etc. In general, longer stays are considered more effective but costs should be balanced by a smaller group size to stay within the funding limit (see below). sDiv offers all established working groups comprehensive support with administration, IT, Bioinformatics, access to High Performing Computing, R-studio server, data sharing, storing & discussion platforms etc., as well as scientific support. Additionally, the application for a working group project can include request for support by a postdoc (see below).

Applications are open to all scientists worldwide. The maximum number of main applicants is two. The main applicants are responsible for communication with sDiv. It is expected that the applicants provide a list of at least 10 participants (including the applicants themselves) who have tentatively agreed to participate (include their agreement as emails or letters in the proposal), and at least one iDiv member. The list of current iDiv members is provided in Appendix I and on the iDiv homepage, the sDiv coordinator can assist with contacting the members. After approval of a working group, admission of few further participants can be allowed when agreed jointly by the sDiv executive committee and the applicants. The admission criteria will be the participants' particular competences, their contribution to maximize complementarity of skills within a meeting and available funding.

Following the spirit of iDiv, applicants should strive for a well-balanced group of participants in terms of gender balance, career stage and international diversity. sDiv aims to have at least 40% female participation as well as at least one PhD student at meetings among participants who also represent the breadth and depth of expertise of the overall working group. Successful groups consist of people with excellent expertise but also with dedication and time to work on the working group agenda. A well-balanced group of researchers in different career stages is an important criterion for accepting applications for working groups. Working groups should include internationally and/or nationally renowned scientists as well as early-stage scientists such as iDiv PhD students and postdocs. Applicants may consider including participants with extraordinary quantitative skills so that disjunctive datasets can be quickly crafted into preliminary analyses. The availability of early results during the limited time frame of a meeting typically boosts the intellectual progress. When assembling the working group, please ask potential participants to consider time commitments to the group and associated research, both before and after the meeting(s), before including them as participants. Generally, we envisage that the majority of working groups will be international in scope and participant nationality.

  • Postdoc fellowships for sDiv

sDiv individual postdocs are fellows who apply for a position themselves, independent of specific working groups. Here, these general fellowships are described in more detail.

The aim of sDiv postdoc fellowships is to allow early-stage scientists to conduct synthesis projects in a stimulating and supportive international environment. The projects should be related to one of the four key research areas of iDiv (see section 1. About iDiv and Appendix II). After the recent decade of successful platform building and data generation, we perceive a need to synthesize biodiversity knowledge in order to develop a more coherent theoretical framework for biodiversity science. Therefore, postdoc proposals addressing synthesis and theory projects, preferably those capitalizing on data available, e.g. through iDiv platforms, will be preferentially considered. The postdoc will be integrated into iDiv working groups, is expected and to contribute to working groups where it makes sense, for example by crafting meeting results and ideas into high-impact publications.

Postdoctoral fellows are funded for 24 months and will be employed by the Leipzig University (working place is iDiv in Leipzig). Funding of the postdoc project has to be specifically described, including (i) travel costs (if well justified) for the time the candidate is at iDiv (e.g. for conferences), (ii) salary for the employment by iDiv and (iii) additional costs, such as for publications, literature or software (see proposal template). All sDiv employees are fully integrated into iDiv and adhere to the general regulations and code of conduct within iDiv. They are expected to contribute to synergistic activities within the center and they have the right to make use of and receive support by iDiv facilities (e.g. Biodiversity Informatics Unit, Bioinformatics Unit, General IT Support Unit) and participate in institutional programmes (e.g. family care structural fund, career fund for women).

The sDiv catalyst postdoc programme is specifically designed to foster and facilitate the integration and thus collaboration among iDiv members and iDiv core professors. Catalyst projects need to show a strong focus on the mechanism how the integration & postdoc supervision is implemented. The aim of catalyst postdoc projects is to spark new iDiv collaborations and innovative biodiversity synthesis projects. sDiv catalyst proposals should be submitted by a team including one iDiv member, one iDiv core professor and the postdoc, if identified. Proposals can be initiated either by: 1. iDiv members, who want to carry out a particular synthesis in cooperation with sDiv, and who publicly announce the position after approval of their proposal OR 2. early-stage researchers themselves (i.e., the postdoc). Postdocs need not to be currently associated with iDiv.

Although we strongly encourage proposals being initiated by a postdoc, any catalyst project without clearly visible intellectual input of all other PIs and a well justified supervision and integration plan will not be considered for review. The proposed mechanism of how the postdoc integration is implemented (the “catalyst”) and the expected novel outcomes arising from the collaboration will be important criteria for evaluation.

  • Sabbatical programme

Interactions and scientific involvement of sDiv visiting scientists are a central mechanism which contributes to iDiv’s mission to be a leading biodiversity research center. sDiv sabbatical fellows play an important role in contributing to the iDiv mission through their intellectual and social interactions, sharing their vision, experience and passion for biodiversity research. The sabbatical programme is designed to attract leading scientists in biodiversity research for a period from one month up to one year (can be split into several shorter-term periods). Sabbatical visitors are selected from applications made directly to this programme, or are invited by the iDiv directorate and sDiv board. For questions, please contact the sDiv coordinator.

sDiv sabbatical fellows should have strong, well justified and specific ideas about their synthesis project(s) to be carried out during their stay at iDiv. Sabbatical visitors are expected to spend the majority of time in residence at iDiv during their fellowship. All synthesis topics in biodiversity research are welcome, ranging from biology to social or computer sciences, preferably related to the core research questions of iDiv.

To ensure mutual benefits and efficient communication between iDiv scientists and sDiv sabbatical fellows, fellows are expected to be an integral part of the sDiv community as well as generally involved in iDiv activities. This could include, for example, giving formal and informal presentations on their research, initiating new projects, and participating in the mentorship of PhD and postdocs.

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