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ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research, based in Frankfurt am Main/Germany, is a leading non-commercial and non-academic institute for transdisciplinary sustainability research. For over 25 years, the Institute has been developing social-ecological concepts, thus providing support for sound decision-making processes by policy makers, civil society and industry. This way, ISOE contributes to sustainable development and provides the impetus for critical and sustainable science. Our clients and sponsors include national and international public institutions and corporations.
ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research, Research Unit Biodiversity and People in cooperation with the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre BiK-F, Genomic Evolution and Climate invites applications for an

Internship and Masterthesis on ?Biodiversity in times of institutional change?


In the 20th century, the world has undergone rapid changes as humanity exerted an increasing impact on ecosystems through the use of resources and associated land use changes. Human impact cannot be separated from societal change: the massive reorganization of previously extensive, low intensity, mostly subsistence farming into an intensive, highly industrialized, large-scale agriculture is intrinsically related to the political and societal developments of the post-war era. This societal transformation certainly influenced structural and functional biodiversity.

Today, new molecular tools enable us to use ancient environmental DNA (eDNA) in order to understand the dynamics of biodiversity in the past. DNA is shed by all organisms into the environment and, under favourable conditions, can be preserved for thousands of years – for example in deposited sediments of lakes. The current project uses eDNA and reconstructs changes in the structural and functional biodiversity in ten lakes in north-eastern Germany, considering all three domains of life such as Eukaryota, Bacteria and Archaea. This provides an unprecedented opportunity to understand and compare the effects of post-war and post-communist institutional changes on biodiversity.

The study region looks back on a rich history of institutional change. Numerous disruptive events such as several cycles of appropriations, the political reunification, institutional restructuring and the associated redistribution of property rights, specifically in the agricultural and fisheries sector led to significant changes in agricultural production as well as fisheries and aquaculture practices. Matching the results of eDNA analysis with disruptive institutional change events may help tackle the question on how institutional change (e.g. appropriation, land reform etc.) specifically in the agricultural and fisheries sector influenced the development of biodiversity over time.


The MSc student will particularly conduct expert interviews and document analysis (historical maps, land registry office) in order to identify hindering and promoting factors influencing structural and functional biodiversity. The gathered data will be combined with the outcomes of the eDNA analysis to explain historical changes in biodiversity over the last 150–200 years. The interviews will be conducted in German while the Master Thesis will be written in English.

Position requirements

Studies in Environmental Sciences, Human Geography, Political Science, or a related field
English and German language proficiency
Willingness to work in an interdisciplinary and international research team
Interest in and basic knowledge of qualitative and quantitative empirical social research
The applicant is expected to complete a paid internship of 6–12 weeks at ISOE prior to the master thesis with the aim to develop the research design.

Please send your application via e-mail in a single PDF file (max. 5 MB) which should include a cover letter describing your motivation to apply, a detailed CV and your certificates to: Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung (ISOE) GmbH, Dr. Marion Mehring, mehring(at)isoe.de.

For scientific enquiries please contact Dr. Marion Mehring (mehring(at)isoe.de) or Dr. Miklos Balint (Miklos.Balint(at)senckenberg.de).

For further Information see www.isoe.de or www.bik-f.de

Bewerbungsschluss: 30.08.2017 Erschienen auf academics.de am 27.07.2017
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