Postdoctoral Fellow Terrachem wildlife toxicology


Naturalis is looking for a postoc on wildlife/environmental toxicology as part of the Horizon Europe TerraChem project.

Postgraduate degree
Fulltime (36 hours per week)
12 months, with possible extension until the end of the project (late 2026)
€ 3.468 - € 4.506


Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden is the Dutch national research institute for biodiversity and systematics. We host over 120 researchers including 15 academia embedded professors and 50 PhD students. We closely collaborate with many Dutch universities, research institutes, industry, and government. With our collection of 43 million specimens, one of the world's largest natural history collections, and our state-of-the-art research facilities we offer the (inter)national research infrastructure for species identification and monitoring (for example in the ARISE project). We present the history of our planet, and the diversity of life on Earth, through permanent and temporary museum exhibitions, educational programmes, and online presence, with more than 400,000 visitors per year. All in all, a unique combination of science and culture in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world!


Biodiversity is the basis of our life on earth and a better understanding of biodiversity, from species through to interaction networks to ecosystem functions and services is key to underpin nature conservation as well as our life in harmony with nature. Besides, biodiversity and interaction networks are among the most diverse and complex and understanding them is one of the main aims of biodiversity science. At Naturalis the focus is often the species. We aim to know all species, to be able to detect them anywhere and to understand their distribution, their roles in networks and ecosystems. 

We are witnessing alarming biodiversity declines with probably 1 million species currently threatened with extinction. Biodiversity loss is recognized as one of the most significant threats to our sustainable future which calls for serious action. Naturalis can play an important role in this transformation and will: 

  • Foster excellence in science and innovation in the field of biology and earth sciences; 
  • Provide a vibrant scientific environment for early- and mid-career researchers; 
  • Provide and maintain state-of-the-art (inter)national research infrastructure; 
  • Further support and strengthen the national research community in biodiversity;
  • Further develop an extensive (inter)national network that connects academia, society, government, industry and the general public; 
  • Extend our outreach to the general public, decision-makers and future generations, e.g. by using citizen science;  
  • Expand our role in Dutch national science policy by calling for an ambitious biodiversity strategy in societal and political agendas. 

Find out more about our research, labs and collection. 


The position is part of the Horizon Europe TerraChem project (From soils to apex species: chemical pathways, effects and impacts on terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystem services and applications for better chemicals management). TerraChem will run from late 2023 to late 2026. The consortium consists of seven partners across Europe, including the University of Leiden, with a range of expertise and backgrounds. In Naturalis, the position is based within the research group Netherlands Biodiversity and Society which focuses on understanding species diversity, interaction networks, distribution patterns, biodiversity change and nature-based solutions with a focus on the Netherlands and Europe as well as a focus on plant-pollinator interactions. We combine basic biodiversity research with the development of species detection and monitoring systems and are engaged in multiple national and international projects both research projects and societal activities with governments and companies. The group consists of 6 researchers, more than 10 postdocs and PhDs, multiple students and guest researchers.

TerraChem: The overall aim of TerraChem is to develop, demonstrate and apply a novel systems approach integrating monitoring, environmental modelling, data management, analytical tools and user guidance to better understand exposure of terrestrial biota across trophic levels (from soil and soil water to plants to primary and secondary consumers to apex species) in Europe to the universe of environmentally-relevant anthropogenic chemicals and their damage on terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystem services, with a view to enabling more efficient environmental risk assessment of chemicals in the terrestrial compartment and more effective prevention and mitigation, accelerating achievement of the EU’s zero pollution ambition. TerraChem’s objectives are: (1) To understand routes of exposure to chemicals in wildlife, including routes and extent of trophic transfer, for selected food chains (from soil and soil water to plants, primary and secondary consumers and apex species) in representative terrestrial ecosystems. (2) To model source-to-receptor pathways of selected chemical contaminants for terrestrial ecosystems, and link organism and species effects to damage on genetic and functional diversity and on relevant ecosystem services. (3) To develop tools and guidance for regulatory and practice uptake of TerraChem research and innovation output to optimise current environmental risk assessment of chemicals and improve risk management measures, and thereby reduce chemical damage to terrestrial biodiversity; and (4) To refine the TerraChem conceptual framework, ensure integration of monitoring (under objective 1), modelling (objective 2) and prevention and mitigation (objective 3), ensure coherence with related project, platform, partnership and policy/regulatory initiatives and pertinence for key end-users, and develop a TerraChem Data Management System and TerraChem Dashboard as a One-Stop Shop for data on contaminants in terrestrial biodiversity in Europe.

We are seeking a postdoctoral researcher who can contribute to objective (1) “To understand routes of exposure to chemicals in wildlife, including routes and extent of trophic transfer, for selected food chains (from soil and soil water to plants, primary and secondary consumers and apex species) in representative terrestrial ecosystems” and link to the other objectives. The work will be carried out under the supervision of Dr Paola Movalli, scientist in Terrachem and Objective 1 Lead for the Terrachem project, and in close collaboration with the University of Leiden (Prof Martina Vijver and her team) and the other Terrachem partners.  Specifically, you (and the Objective 1 team) will aim to understand routes of exposure to chemicals in wildlife, including routes and extent of trophic transfer, for selected food chains (from soil and soil water to plants to primary and secondary consumers to apex species) in representative terrestrial ecosystems. This will include (1) detect and determine chemicals present, and predominant chemical mixtures, in selected food chains (from plants and primary consumers to apex predators), in representative terrestrial ecosystems; (2) understand routes of exposure including routes and extent of trophic transfer, and (3) explore patterns for individual contaminants and predominant mixtures in terrestrial trophic chains.

This will include contributing to selection of case studies, coordination of sample acquisition and analyses (chemical analyses will be led by other TerraChem partners), as well as the data analysis and resulting reports and publications. All of this in close collaboration with the other partner institutes in the project.

General requirements
and skills

  • PhD qualification in wildlife/environmental toxicology or related discipline;
  • Excellent scientist as witnessed from publications and projects;
  • Technical/scientific expertise in exposure assessment (preferably with experience on invertebrates). 
  • Experience on trophic transfer studies using stable isotope analysis and/or analysis of mixture effects using bioassays (not essential, but a plus);
  • Experience in conducting fieldwork for collection of abiotic and biotic samples (e.g. soil, soil pore water, invertebrates, rodents) in natural/anthropogenic ecosystems (not essential, but a plus);
  • Experience in analysis of contaminant residue data including use of statistics and graphical presentation of data (e.g. using the computing language R);
  • Team player, ideally with experience in multidisciplinary consortium projects
  • Excellent communication, collaboration and networking skills.
  • Fluent in written and spoken English


We provide a vibrant and inspiring working environment, with ample support to our scientific staff by our Research Coordination Office and provide access to state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and the 43 million natural history objects in our collection. At Naturalis you will get the opportunity to develop your research career, to cooperate with inspiring colleagues and to teach at Dutch universities. We offer a one year contract (32-36 hours per week), with possible extension until the end of the project (late 2026) after successful evaluation and a monthly starting salary between € 3.468,- and € 4.506,- gross per month (based on 36 hours/week, depending on relevant experience). You also get an allowance for travel expenses, holiday allowance (8%) and year-end bonus (3.4%). The successful candidate will be employed by Naturalis in Leiden. Feel free to contact Prof. dr. Koos Biesmeijer ( or Dr. Paola Movalli with questions about the position. For procedural questions related to the application please contact HR:


Applicants are invited to submit their application in one pdf, including a cover/motivation letter (max. 2 pages) and CV (max. 3 pages) and the names and contact details of two referees. Please use this form for your application no later than 3 November 2023.

Naturalis endorses the Cultural Diversity Code, promotes gender equality and wants to enhance the diversity of staff members. In the case of equal suitability, preference is given to the candidate who reinforces diversity within the team. 

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