Postdoc Fellowship, palaeoecology - Cape Town, South Africa

The Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town seeks a palaeoecologist for a postdoctoral position to investigate the interactions between fire, climate, vegetation and herbivory on the Cape Peninsula, and the consequences for Fynbos-Forest dynamics. The title is: The role of fire, climate, and land use change as drivers of forest-fynbos dynamics in the western Cape and implications for Fire Management and Ecosystem Services.


Value: R220 000 pa. This award does not include any benefits and is normally exempt from taxation. The tenure of the position is 12 months, with the commencement date in July or August 2019 and a possibility for renewal for a further 12 months on satisfactory progress.


The project will utilise palaeoecological techniques (e.g. analysis of fossil pollen, charcoal, stable isotopes, fungal spores and radiocarbon dating) in order to reconstruct fynbos-forest dynamics.

Sediment cores will be collected from Table Mountain National Park or the vicinity thereof and will extract fossil pollen, charcoal and dung fungal spores from these using standard methods. Data will be plotted and interpreted in terms of an age-depth model based on AMS radiocarbon dates and Pb210 dates where appropriate.

Changes in vegetation, fire and herbivory will be interpreted in terms of known climatic and anthropogenic factors from the literature, and will be assessed in terms of the implications for ecosystem services and fire management.

The position is part of a larger multi-disciplinary project investigating vegetation dynamics and ecosystem services over long-time-scales, funded by the NRF Competitive Programme for Rated Researchers (Grant Number CSRU180503325814/118538).

The fellowship is open to any eligible person, South African or otherwise, who can carry out its objective.

There will be opportunities for teaching and co-supervision of postgraduate students. The research to be conducted will be based at the Plant Conservation Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town under the primary supervision of A/Prof Lindsey Gillson and the co-supervision of Professor Timm Hoffman.

As part of the successful candidate’s professional development, the opportunity to participate in limited teaching and supervision of senior students in the Department will be offered.


Possession of a PhD degree in palaeoecology, which has been obtained no more than five years ago, is a minimum requirement.

Eligible candidates may not have previously held any academic or professional permanent positions.

Experience of pollen analysis is essential and familiarity with pollen and vegetation from the Cape Floristic Region.


Applications close 20 April 2019 and must include the following:

1. A 1-page proposal including a motivation and a description of how you will materially contribute to the project
2. Your full curriculum vitae and list of publications
3. Reports from three referees who must be requested to email the references directly to the Head of Department at the email address below
4. Certified copies of all academic transcripts and degree certificates
5. Written endorsement by the host (principle investigator) of the proposed project. This also should be emailed directly to the Head of Department.

Applications must be submitted electronically to Lindsey Gillson, Plant Conservation Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further information

Information on faculty structure and academic departments can be found on the UCT website:

All applicants are subject to the policies surrounding the postdoctoral sector at the University of Cape Town.

Go to the Department website:

Enquiries can be emailed to Ms Claire Khai, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Phone number +27 21 6503604