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 environmentdiversityproductivity 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 (sEcoTovDiv)"

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)

General information about the sDiv framework

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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 eight Professorships, a 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, the Klaus-Tschira foundation, and the Free State of Saxony.

The four overarching iDiv questions of biodiversity science are:

  • How can we detect and quantify biodiversity (‘detection’)?
  • How does biodiversity emerge (‘emergence’)?
  • What are the consequences of biodiversity for the functioning of ecosystems (‘consequences’)?
  • How can we safeguard biodiversity (‘conservation’)?


2   Goals of 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 the sDiv, which is embedded within iDiv .

Building upon experiences gained in other successful synthesis programs, we have established sDiv to offer national and international workshops, postdoc positions and a sabbatical program. 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, where, once all positions have been filled, over 150 scientists will cover 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/workshop and by mandatory reporting sessions open to all iDiv scientists during the course of each workshop. Interaction is informally promoted by social rooms (recreation area, cafeteria, library, white boards 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 workshop. 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 discussion.

sDiv will fund up to 12 workshop groups per year. Workshop projects are usually established for 12 months and typically organize one or two workshops in this period. Workshop projects will address key topics in biodiversity research, particularly in areas where synergies are to be expected from bringing together ideas, expertise and data.
Moreover sDiv supports Postdoctoral (either being workshop postdocs or having their individual projects) and Sabbatical fellows. Postdocs could stay form 12-24 month and Sabbaticals from one to 12 month.

Together with a large group of international synthesis centres, sDiv is part of the informal International Joint Synthesis Centre Initiative. 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 workshops, 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 are jointly funded over the next two years under the thematic umbrella ’Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’.

As part of the equal opportunity policy, iDiv provides an option for flexible childcare, which could take care for your kid(s), while you are attending the workshop or in case of a longer stay, while you are waiting for other child care options, like kinder garden etc. If you have any further questions related to it, please contact the sDiv coordinator.

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

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

An sDiv executive committee consisting of 11 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 committee will evaluate applications for working groups and postdocs, either directly or by inviting external ad-hoc reviews from experts in the field. The sabbatical scientists may either be selected from applications or be directly invited by the executive committee. The sDiv executive committee is appointed by the iDiv directorate. Their appointment is for two years. It is possible to serve on the executive committee for consecutive appointment periods.

  • Working groups and workshops

All workshops take place at the iDiv centre in Leipzig.

Workshops are expected to produce outputs during, not only after the workshop. They are expected to be composed of 10 to not more than 20 participants and to last preferred for four or five full working days up to two weeks. Workshops should include a sufficient number of time slots devoted to actual work on, e.g., manuscripts, data analysis, etc. In general, longer stays are considered more effective but costs should be compensated by a smaller group size to stay within the funding limit (see below). sDiv offers all established workshop projects comprehensive support with administration, IT, Bioinformatics, access to High Performing Computing Cluster etc. as well as scientific support. Additionally, the application for a workshop project can include support by a postdoc (see below).

Applications are open to all scientists worldwide. The maximum number of lead applicants is two. The main applicant is responsible for communication with sDiv. It is expected that the workshop project applicants provide a list of at least 10 participants who have tentatively agreed to participate (include their agreement as emails or letters in the proposal), including the applicants themselves, and at least one iDiv full or associated member (if applicable). The list of current iDiv members is provided in Appendix I and on the iDiv homepage (feel free to ask the sDiv coordinator for assistance). After approval of a workshop project, 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 workshop and available funding.

Following the spirit of iDiv, applicants should focus on a well-balanced group of participants regarding gender balance (sDiv aims to have at least 30% female participation at workshops) among participants and expertise. Successful groups consist of people with excellent expertise but also with dedication and time to work on the workshop agenda. A well-balanced group of researchers in different career stages is an important criterion for accepting applications for workshop projects. I.e. applicants should include internationally and/or nationally renowned scientists as well as young and curious iDiv PhD students and postdocs eager to publish the outcomes of the workshop. Applicants may consider including participants with extraordinary quantitative skills so that disjunct datasets can be quickly crafted into preliminary analyses. The availability of early results during the limited time frame of a workshop typically boosts the intellectual progress. When assembling the workshop project, please ask potential workshop participants to consider time commitments to the workshop and associated research, both before and after the workshop, before including them as participants. Generally, we envisage that the majority of workshops will be international in scope and participant nationality.

  • Postdoc fellowships for sDiv

sDiv postdocs are either supporting a specific working group (see above) or fellows who applied 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 questions of iDiv. 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 workshop results and ideas into high-impact publications.

Post-doctoral fellows can be funded for a maximum of 24 months and will be employed by the Leipzig University (working place is iDiv in Leipizg). All employees within sDiv 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 programs (e.g. family care structural fund, career fund for women).

  • Sabbatical program

The sabbatical program is designed to attract leading scientists in biodiversity research for a period from one month up to one year. sDiv strongly support also short term sabbaticals visits, which could be also split into different periods. Scientist can be directly invited by the steering committee or selected from applications made directly to this program by individuals. For details regarding funding options, please contact the sDiv coordinator.

To ensure mutual benefits and efficient communication between iDiv scientists and sDiv participants, sabbatical scientists should give a presentation in the first month after arrival. Sabbaticals will also act as mentors for sDiv postdocs and will be expected to give ad-hoc presentations about their own research.

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