Join us

Open Positions

Doctoral and Postdoctoral positions: Effects of light pollution on glowworms.

We are seeking highly motivated PhD and postdoctoral researchers to join our research project: 'Coping with light pollution: integrating behavioural, physiological, and genetic research in the study of the European glow-worm'

The aim of the project is to determine the impact of past light conditions - both natural and artificial - on the ability of organisms to cope with modern LED lights, and to evaluate the underlying mechanisms, using the glow-worm as the model species. Insights gained will be used to identify measures that can be taken to reduce negative effects of man-made lighting systems on the species and on biodiversity in general.

The increased use of artificial light at night is a growing environmental problem that influences biodiversity and the structure and functioning of ecosystems. While there are some insights into the impacts of artificial light on organisms, it remains unknown which factors determine their ability to cope with light pollution. This has greatly limited our ability to predict which species will be negatively affected and which will be more resilient. The aim of the project is to remedy this lack of knowledge by assessing the impact of past light conditions - both natural and artificial - on the ability of organisms to cope with modern LED lights. Given that past conditions have determined the evolution of present reaction norms (phenotypic responses) and the potential for genetic adaptation, we hypothesise that past light condition is a major predictor of responses to modern LED light. To test this, we use the European glow-worm (Lampyris noctiluca) where females emit a bioluminescent signal to attract flying males. We  integrate behavioural, physiological and genetic research to assess responses to LEDs along three gradients: 1) a latitudinal gradient to evaluate the impact of natural light conditions, 2) an urbanisation gradient to evaluate the impact of earlier exposure to artificial light, and 3) a temporal gradient to evaluate the impact of the time populations have been exposed to artificial light in the past. We assess behavioural and physiological responses to LEDs in field enclosures and in a multi-year selection experiment, and determine the genetic underpinnings of the responses in a common garden experiment and by screening for signs of selection across the genome.

The research provide information on the ability of glowworms to cope with modern LED lights, phenotypically and genetically, and the degree to which this depends on past light conditions and exadaptations. The results will be used to predict the expected trajectory of populations depending on future scenarios of light pollution, and to evaluate changes needed to artificial lighting systems to reduce negative effects on biodiversity. At a more general level, the insights will be used to assess the degree to which information on past conditions can be used to predict species responses to rapid human-induced environmental change.

The PhD position is for a maximum of 4 years and the postdoctoral position for up to 3 years. Starting date is negotiable, and the salary will follow the demands level chart for research personnel at University of Helsinki.

How to apply:

The application should include the following attachments as a single pdf-file:

  • a cover letter describing shortly your background and motivation to apply to one of the positions (max. 2 page)
  • Curriculum Vitae with a list of publications and a brief summary explaining your own contributions
  • Names and contact information of two referees, who are willing to provide reference letters upon request

Apply using the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the Apply link

PhD position:…

Post-doc position:…

Deadline: 21 July 2023

For more information, contact