Postdoctoral researcher in mammalian paleoecology and ecometry job with UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI


The Department of Geosciences and Geography ( of the Faculty of Science is the leading research and teaching unit in its field in Finland. In addition to research in geology, geophysics and geography, research in seismology and official functions in the field of seismology are carried out at the department.

The Faculty of Science is calling for applications for a postdoctoral researcher in mammalian paleoecology and econometrics from 1.11.2022 for a fixed-term job until 31.1.2026.

Job Description

The postdoctoral researcher will work on the NEPA project, Non-Analogue Ecosystems in the Past (2021-2026) funded by the Academy of Finland. The general objective of the project is to explore how the ecometric traits (dental traits, limb bone dimensions, body size and diet) of large herbivorous mammals could be used to model vegetation and climate over the past 65 million years in Europe, Africa and the South. America, and how these patterns change over time with the evolution of new traits within mammalian communities and the evolution of plant communities. This is achieved by comparing mammalian traits with indicators of vegetation and climate, such as plant fossil records and stable isotope records in time intervals of a few million years on each continent. Ultimately, this approach will inform us about how correlations of mammalian trait distribution with vegetation and climate have changed over time on different continents and under human influence. The research project is led by Juha Saarinen, researcher at the Academy of Finland. the work will be carried out in his research group at the Department of Geosciences and Geography.

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to join the NEPA project team at the Department of Geosciences and Geography. Indicatively, the main task will be to conduct research on the post-cranial ecometry of understudied large mammal groups (e.g. proboscideans, rhinos and suids), primarily in the Neogene of East Africa. ‘East. However, this topic can be modified to some extent depending on the interest of the applicant. The idea is to explore whether the proportions of limb bones within communities of large mammals (such as the groups mentioned above) can be used to model the properties of vegetation (such as woody cover) or climate (such as precipitation) in past environments. This will be accomplished by comparing limb bone traits with other environmental indicators of the past, such as reconstructions of vegetation structure in paleoenvironments based on plant fossil records and stable isotope analyses. Such an approach is needed especially for megaherbivores due to their low diversity and disparity in modern communities. An important aspect of this study is also to test whether the proportions of limb bones in various groups of large mammals primarily reflect differences in body size (allometry) or whether they provide a signal of locomotor adaptation independent of body size (but driven by environmental factors). As a requirement, the candidate must have a PhD in geology, paleontology, ecology or a related field. The successful candidate should have excellent scholarly communication and writing skills in English, data analysis skills and a proven publication record of high-quality scientific articles as well as the ability to conduct independent and creative research.

Salary and benefits

The starting salary of the postdoctoral researcher will be around 3800 euros/month. In addition, the University of Helsinki offers comprehensive services to its employees, including occupational health care and health insurance, sports facilities and professional development opportunities.

Finland is a member of the EU, offers free high-quality education (also in English), generous family benefits and health care, and was recently ranked as the happiest country in the world. Finland and the Helsinki region have cutting-edge scientific expertise in terms of a dynamic talent pool, cutting-edge research, strong support services and functioning collaborative networks. For more information about working at the University of Helsinki and living in Finland, please see

How to register

Informal inquiries can be addressed to Juha Saarinen, researcher at the Academy of Finland ([email protected]).

Formal applications must include a single pdf file including: (1) a CV including a list of publications (2) a max. 2-page motivation letter where the candidate can explain his interest in the position as well as his scientific background.

To apply, please submit your application using the University of Helsinki Electronic Recruitment System.

The deadline for applications is September 19, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. GMT+3.

For more information, please contact Juha Saarinen, researcher at the Academy of Finland ([email protected]).

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