PostDoc and PhD Position

A new research project on

Restoration of tropical rainforest in degraded landscapes” (Acronym: UpScaleR)

invites applications for one postdoctoral position and one PhD position in Conservation Biology beginning in March 2023 for a period of 3 – 4 years.

The project will be funded by a grant from the Foundation UNISCIENTIA to the Technical University of Darmstadt (TUDa), Germany. Both fixed-term positions will be implemented at the Universidad de Las Américas (UDLA) in Quito in close collaboration with TUDa and Fundación Jocotoco. The PhD candidate will defend the thesis at TUDa.

The project aims at understanding the dynamics of natural forest recovery from agriculture and degraded land, comparisons with active tree plantations and the contribution of frugivorous vertebrates to tree dispersal. The research will be conducted in and around the Buenaventura Forest Reserve in southwestern Ecuador run by Fundación Jocotoco. Jocotoco successfully restores and protects a unique tropical forest in the western foothills of the Andes which is home to a particularly diverse flora and fauna including many endemic species. Only 5-10% of the original forest cover remains in this region, hence an enlargement and conservation of this vulnerable forest ecosystem becomes a priority. Approx. 670,000 trees of ~40 native species have been planted. We will study the recruitment and dispersal of trees in formerly deforested areas, focusing on seedlings, fruit traits and fruit-dispersing animals. We aim to compare the recovery of tree species, phylogenetic diversity and evolutionary distinctiveness and forest structure across sites with different degrees of forest cover in the surrounding (within and outside the core reserve), and to unravel the importance of dispersal limitation, active vs. natural regeneration, and the forest matrix for recovery success. This involves extensive surveys and identification of trees, seedlings, and seed dispersers (birds and mammals) as well as biodiversity monitoring. Expertise in identification of tropical plants and/or vertebrates is thus desirable. Different roles and topics will be allocated between the two positions, depending on the individual backgrounds of the successful applicants. The project aims to inform conservation, forest restoration and management and will be conducted closely together with Fundación Jocotoco. Together, we offer an excellent, international, research environment and research training both at the UDLA, TUDa, as well as in the Research Unit “Reassembly” in North-West Ecuador to which this project is tightly linked.

For the PhD candidate, a Master’s degree or equivalent is required (in Biology, Ecology, Conservation or related areas). The postdoctoral position aims at more experienced scientists who have completed a PhD (in botany, zoology or ecology or related disciplines).

Applications from any country are welcome, but candidates from Ecuador or other Latin American countries have an advantage. We expect the two scientists to spend the majority of the first two years in the remote study area, as well as to visit the two labs in UDLA and Darmstadt for some time. Field work experience in remote areas such as tropical forests is desirable and good physical condition is essential, in addition to scientific qualifications, good writing skills in English and communication skills in Spanish. German language proficiency is not required. Good statistical skills and knowledge of computer software such as R is also desirable. 

The deadline for the application is November 1st, 2022, although later applications may be accepted until the positions are filled. The project will be supervised by Nico Blüthgen (, professor for ecology at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Juan Ernesto Guevara (, professor for botany and ecology at Universidad de Las Américas in Quito, Constance Tremlett (, postdoc and scientific coordinator of Reassembly, and Martin Schaefer (, conservation biologist and director of Jocotoco. Please do not hesitate to contact us individually for questions or conveniently via a group E-mail to all four via

Successful applications include a letter of motivation, research interests and experience, CV and publication list. Please submit your application as a single PDF in English by E-mail to Nico Blüthgen ( You may revisit this website ( for updates if there are changes to the announcement.

Please consult the following homepages for further details:

Buenaventura Reserve / Jocotoco:

Research Unit Reassembly:

Juan Ernesto Guevara’s lab:

Nico Blüthgen’s lab: