PhD position (m/f/d) in Entomology - Subterranean Evolution in Beetles (E13 TV-L, 50%)

The State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart (SMNS) is one of the largest natural history museums in Germany emphasizing collection-based research in systematics, taxonomy, biodiversity and evolution.  

The project:

Beetles are the main group of insects to have successfully colonized subterranean environments. Narrow endemism and isolation of populations make them a unique model to study speciation processes in the subterranean environment, as well as of great natural heritage value and of primary importance in terms of conservation.

With more than 200 subterranean species described so far, the Staphylinidae family is one of the few beetle groups that successfully and repeatedly colonized subterranean environments. Most of these species are belonging to the subfamily Pselaphinae (ca. 170 species), with the tribe Bythinini being one of the most diverse, including species occurring in the soil or in caves. The Balkan Peninsula is a hotspot of diversity for the group, with more than 50 cave species described in 14 genera so far, and many species awaiting formal description.

Detailed job description:

This PhD position falls within the scope of long-term research investigations developed at SMNS, aimed at understanding the origins and modalities of subterranean evolution and adaptation in beetles.

The successful applicant will reconstruct the first molecular phylogeny of the tribe Bythini, with focus on subterranean species. The results will allow to clarify phylogenetic affinities between the genera, test the monophyly of the Dinaric group and the phylogenetic validity of previous classifications. In a second time, morphometric approaches will be used to study the evolution in size and shape of some morphological structures. Comparison of phylogeny and morphology will allow to test the importance of convergence in subterranean life. Moreover, acquisition of taxonomic expertise on the group and description of new taxa are among the expected results of the project. The evolutionary history of the group and the impact of paleogeographical events on its present distribution will finally be analysed.

The successful candidate will be based at the Entomology Department of the SMNS. The project will be supervised by Dr. Arnaud Faille  

The applicant will also work in close collaboration with Dr. Peter Hlaváč (Natural History Museum, Prague).


The successful candidate is expected to have:

  • M.Sc./Diploma degree or equivalent in biology by the time of the start of the project
  • strong English language skills in both spoken and written form
  • experience and interest in insect/beetle biodiversity and evolution
  • ability to work in a collaborative environment
  • organizationaI skills and flexibility
  • willingness to traveI for sampling of cave and soil faunas
  • skills in molecular biology and bioinformatics


Applicants must be highly motivated and have a background in entomology and phylogenetic analysis. Skills in speleology as well as experience in sampling of soil and cave invertebrates in the field would be a plus.

Please note: The applicant must enroll in a doctoral program at the University of Hohenheim to obtain the appropriate degree.

In turn we offer:

  • the opportunity to pursue your academic career in an internationally renowned research museum
  • access to a molecular laboratory and imaging platforms (optical and scanning electron microscopes, high performance cameras) and to a unique collection of world Pselaphinae
  • exciting research in an international and multidisciplinary environment including taxonomists, evolutionary biologists and computer scientists
  • the possibility to attend national and international conferences
  • intensive academic and personal mentoring
  • an attractive workplace in the centre of Stuttgart


The salary is based on the German civil service salary scale E13 [TV-L, 50%]. The position is limited to three years. Please send your application, including a cover letter, CV and certificates exclusively online (in one file, max 5 MB) to phd-coleoptera [at] smns-bw [dot] de by February 23, 2020. The job interviews are scheduled for March 6, 2020.

Please note that your incoming data will not be automatically encrypted. By submitting your application documents, you agree to circulate them between members of the selection committee in compliance with the provisions of the European GeneraI Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO).

For further information, please contact Dr. Arnaud Faille: 0049-(0) 711 8936 221, arnaud [dot] faille [at] smns-bw [dot] de or Prof. Dr. Lars Krogmann: 0049-(0) 711 8936 219, lars [dot] krogmann [at] smns-bw [dot] de

The SMNS is an equal opportunity employer that values diversity, tolerance and excellence.

Preference will be given to applicants with severe disabilities if equally qualified.