Marsden Fund supported Post-doctoral Research Fellowship

We seek applicants for a three-year post-doctoral research fellowship to be funded by a Standard Grant from the Marsden Fund Council, administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand. The work will be based in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, under the primary supervision of Assoc. Prof. Daniel B. Stouffer.

Project summary:

Competition between species is central to understanding how the natural world works and is regarded by many ecologists as a critical factor in determining species coexistence. Within the literature, the notion that competition is an additive process—implying that pairwise interactions are enough to explain the outcomes of competitive interactions between species—has effectively become dogma among both theoreticians and empiricists. There are a variety of reasons, however, why nature may not work quite so simply and that competition is actually a non-additive process. With this in mind, the primary objective of this research program is to test the validity of this assumption across diverse empirical datasets from natural plant communities. We also plan to evaluate the extent to which this revised perspective on competition between plants alters our understanding of the mechanisms of coexistence, as well as our general appreciation for the complexity of diverse plant assemblages.

The successful applicant will be expected to develop novel analytical, computational, and statistical approaches for the study of higher-order interactions. They will also have the opportunity to influence and drive the specific modelling approach used. The position will be primarily based in the Stouffer Lab at the University of Canterbury. However, the research will also be developed in close collaboration with the grant's co-PI, Assoc. Prof. Margaret Mayfield from the University of Queensland, Australia, and the post-doctoral fellow will have multiple opportunities to spend time in Dr. Mayfield’s lab during the course of the project. Notably, this position is also aligned with a larger set of related endeavours being undertaken by members of the two research groups (at the postgraduate and post-doctoral levels), as well as ongoing empirical studies led by Dr. Mayfield and her team as part of an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (awarded to Drs. Mayfield and Stouffer).

Position details:

Applicants will ideally be prepared and able to start prior to July 2017, and should specify in their cover letter if this is not the case. The salary for this position is NZD$70,000 (plus benefits), and is secured for the duration of the three-year position. Funding is also in place for all anticipated research costs, including travel to visit project collaborators and to attend national and international conferences.


Because of the project's interdisciplinary nature and strong emphasis on combining theory with empirical data, we are open to applicants from ecology, mathematics, physics, or related disciplines. Applicants must also demonstrate that they have sufficient mathematical and programming skills to lead the project’s modelling component.

How to apply:

All applications must be submitted online under the listing for Job ID 4588 here. Applications must include a cover letter describing candidates' research interests, background, and suitability for the position, curriculum vitae, and the names and contact details of three referees.

Any questions regarding this position should be sent directly to Daniel B. Stouffer (

The deadline for submitting applications has now closed.