Das Deutsche Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) ist in Mitteldeutschland eine Drehscheibe der internationalen Biodiversitätsforschung. Forschungsziel und Aufgabe ist die Förderung theoriebasierter Synthese und datenorientierter Theoriebildung.
Das Synthesezentrum sDiv ist inhaltlich und physisch in iDiv integriert. Das Synthesezentrum dient der Förderung von Theorie und Synthese in den aufstrebenden Biodiversitätswissen-schaften.
Die Graduiertenschule yDiv wurde ins Leben gerufen, um eine neue Generation interdisziplinär arbeitender Biodiversitätswissenschaftler auszubilden.

Decisions for second sDiv call

Following our second sDiv call, we received many proposals of very high scientific quality. After discussion of the internal reviews, the sDiv Committee decided to fund five international workshops:


"Synthesising Trait Evolution in Plants (sTEP)"

main applicants: William D. Pearse and Jeannine Cavender-Bares (both University of Minnesota)


"Next Generation Models for Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity (sESMOD)"

main applicants: Elena Bennett (Mc Gill University); Gretchen Daily (Stanford University)


"Ecotoxicology for B-EF research: experimental design of aquatic multi-trophic experiments (sEcoTovDiv)"

main applicants: Frederik De Laender (University of Namur); Paul Van den Brink (Wageningen University)


"Can ecological network information improve the efficacy of biodiversity
conservation for ecosystem services in the face of unavoidable uncertainty? (sErvices)"

main applicants: Laura E. Dee and Steven D. Gaines (both University of California, Santa Barbara)


"Unifying marine and terrestrial biodiversity at the interplay of macroecology, macrophysiology and macroevolution (sWEEP)"

main applicants: Miguel Ángel Olalla Tárraga (Rey Juan Carlos University); Ignacio Morales Castilla (Universidade de Evora)

sDiv - Second call for workshops closed

sDiv has just closed its second call for workshops. You will find more about the new funded projects here on sDiv pages beginning of June.

sDiv – Call for Research Proposals


1   About iDiv


The central mission of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle - Jena - Leipzig is to promote theory-driven synthesis and data-driven theory in biodiversity sciences and to provide the scientific foundations for the sustainable management of biodiversity. iDiv is one of seven National Research Centres funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG FZT 118). It is located in the city of Leipzig, jointly hosted by the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU), the Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg (MLU), the University of Leipzig (UL), and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ. It is additionally supported by the Leibniz Association, the Max Planck Society, the Klaus-Tschira foundation, and the Free State of Saxony.


The four overarching iDiv questions of biodiversity science are:

  • How can we detect and quantify biodiversity (‘detection’)?
  • How does biodiversity emerge (‘emergence’)?
  • What are the consequences of biodiversity for the functioning of ecosystems (‘consequences’)?
  • How can we safeguard biodiversity (‘conservation’)?


2   Goals of sDiv – the tool to create synergy


Addressing these questions and integrating their answers into a comprehensive theory of biodiversity and successful real-world applications represent a major technological and intellectual challenge. To meet this challenge, iDiv will conduct and promote excellent science as well as explore new territory with respect to communication structures and outreach. One of our main measures taken to ensure close collaboration between theoreticians, empiricists, and practitioners inside and outside of iDiv is the establishment and maintenance of networks within the scientific community and with the public. Fostering collaboration between scientists across the world is one of the central tasks of the Synthesis Centre for Biodiversity Sciences (sDiv), which is embedded within iDiv (Figure 1).


Building upon experiences gained in other successful synthesis programmes, we have established sDiv to offer national and international workshops, short-term postdoc positions and a sabbatical programme. sDiv is an important instrument of iDiv to foster theoretical and synthetic thinking in biodiversity sciences by bringing together researchers from different projects and disciplines and by providing conditions that promote the creative process.


Though a stand-alone construct, sDiv is physically integrated into the active research centre of iDiv, where, once all positions have been filled, over 100 scientists will cover a wide spectrum of modern integrative biodiversity research. The core of the iDiv philosophy is that of synergy, which is achieved by interaction between sDiv visitors and resident scientists. Formally, this is achieved by inclusion of at least one iDiv member in each working group/workshop and by mandatory reporting sessions open to all iDiv scientists during the course of each workshop. Interaction is informally promoted by social rooms (recreation area, cafeteria, library). We hope that sDiv visitors will bring in fresh ideas and views and may be interested in collaboration with iDiv scientists beyond the scope of their workshop. The body of resident scientists in turn represents a unique concentration of expertise in biodiversity science, and sDiv visitors are encouraged to approach them for help and discussion.


Figure 1: Structure of sDiv and its interconnection with iDiv and the global scientific community of biodiversity research. sDiv comprises, per year, 12 workshops, four postdoc positions, and a sabbatical programme.

Figure 1: Structure of sDiv and its interconnection with iDiv and the global scientific community of biodiversity research. sDiv comprises, per year, 12 workshops, four postdoc positions, and a sabbatical programme.



sDiv will fund up to twelve workshop groups per year. Workshop projects are usually established for 12 months and typically organize one workshop in this period. Workshop projects will address key topics in biodiversity research, particularly in areas where synergies are to be expected from bringing together ideas, expertise and data. Outputs of these workshop groups will be high-impact publications, proposals for the acquisition of innovative research grants, standard protocols and experimental designs for all aspects of biodiversity research.


The postdoc programme will allow early-stage scientists to conduct synthesis projects in a stimulating and supportive international environment. Ideally, they will be integrated into iDiv working groups and will be responsible for crafting their results and ideas into high-impact publications. They will benefit from considerable autonomy e.g. to use iDiv resources.


By offering leading scientists the possibility for sabbaticals in an intellectually attractive environment, iDiv will contribute to the integration of biodiversity research that is still scattered and hindered by disciplinary boundaries worldwide.


Together with a large group of international synthesis centres, sDiv is part of the informal International Joint Synthesis Centre Initiative. We aim to develop close cooperation across centres in the upcoming years, to include a mutual consultancy, exchange of applications and evaluation tools and, most importantly, joint workshops, particularly with respect to projects of high societal relevance. Additionally, sDiv partners the USA’s NCEAS successor SESYNC, where Prof. William (Bill) Fagan from the University of Maryland, one of our scientific advisory board members, serves as the associate Director of Research.


sDiv is coordinated by Dr. Marten Winter, a scientist with a strong background in biodiversity research, supported by secretary and a dedicated team of assistants. sDiv is supported as a top priority by iDiv’s General IT Support Unit, the Bioinformatics and Biodiversity Informatics Unit and the centre’s administration.

3   Instruments and selection criteria

An sDiv executive committee consisting of one member of each of the four iDiv founding institutions (FSU, MLU, UL, UFZ), 5 external scientists (leading figures of biodiversity sciences), the sDiv coordinator and the iDiv Managing Director will evaluate applications for working groups and postdocs, either directly or by inviting external ad-hoc reviews from experts in the field. The sabbatical scientists may either be selected from applications or be directly invited by the executive committee. The sDiv executive committee is appointed by the iDiv directorate. Their appointment is for two years. It is possible to serve on the executive committee for consecutive appointment periods.


  • Working groups and workshops

sDiv will fund up to twelve workshop projects per year. Workshop projects are established for one year and typically organize one workshop in this period. In well-justified cases, two smaller workshops are also possible within one project.

Workshops are expected to produce outputs during, not only after the workshop. They are expected to be composed of 10 to not more than 20 participants and to last preferred for four or five full working days up to two weeks. Workshops should include a sufficient number of time slots devoted to actual work on, e.g., manuscripts, data analysis, etc. In general, longer stays are considered more effective but costs should be compensated by smaller group size to stay within the funding limit. sDiv offers all established workshop projects comprehensive support with administration, IT, Bioinformatics etc. as well as scientific support. Additionally, the application for a workshop project can include support by a postdoc.

Applications are open to all scientists worldwide. The maximum number of lead applicants is two. The main applicant is responsible for communication with sDiv. It is expected that the workshop project applicants provide a list of at least 10 participants who have tentatively agreed to participate, including the applicants themselves, and at least one iDiv member or associated (if applicable). The list of current iDiv members is provided in Appendix I and on the iDiv homepage (feel free to ask the sDiv coordinator Marten Winter for assistance). After approval of a workshop project, admission of few further participants can be allowed, when agreed jointly by the sDiv executive committee and the applicants. The admission criteria will be the participants' particular competences, their contribution to maximize complementarity of skills within a workshop and available funding.

Following the spirit of iDiv, applicants should focus on a well-balanced group of participants regarding gender balance (sDiv aims to have at least 30% female participation at workshops) among participants and expertise. Successful groups consist of people with excellent expertise but also with dedication and time to work on the workshop agenda. A well-balanced group of researchers in different career stages is an important criterion for accepting applications for workshop projects. I.e. applicants should include internationally and/or nationally renowned scientists as well as young and curious iDiv PhD students and postdocs eager to publish the outcomes of the workshop. Applicants may consider including participants with extraordinary quantitative skills so that disjunct datasets can be quickly crafted into preliminary analyses. The availability of early results during the limited timeframe of a workshop typically boosts the intellectual progress. When assembling the workshop project, please ask potential workshop participants to consider time commitments to the workshop and associated research, both before and after the workshop, before including them as participants. Generally, we envisage that the majority of workshops will be international in scope and participant nationality.

All workshops take place at the iDiv centre in Leipzig.


  • Postdoc fellowships for sDiv

sDiv postdocs are either supporting a specific working group (see above) or fellows who applied for a position themselves, independent of specific working groups. Here, these general fellowships are described in more detail.

The aim of sDiv postdoc fellowships is to allow early-stage scientists to conduct synthesis projects in a stimulating and supportive international environment. The projects should be related to one of the four key questions of iDiv. After the recent decade of successful platform building and data generation, we perceive a need to synthesize biodiversity knowledge in order to develop a more coherent theoretical framework for biodiversity science. Therefore, postdoc proposals addressing synthesis and theory projects, preferably those capitalizing on data available through iDiv platforms, will be preferentially considered. The postdoc fellows are expected to contribute to working groups where it makes sense, for example by attending workshops and supporting producing the working groups’ deliverables.


Post-doctoral fellows can be funded for a maximum of 24 months and will be employed by the University of Leipzig. All employees within sDiv are fully integrated into iDiv and adhere to the general regulations and code of conduct within iDiv. They are expected to contribute to synergistic activities within the center and they have the right to make use of and receive support by iDiv facilities (e.g. Biodiversity Informatics Unit, Bioinformatics Unit, General IT Support Unit) and participate in institutional programmes (e.g. family care structural fund, career fund for women).


  • Sabbatical programme

The sabbatical programme is designed to attract leading scientists in biodiversity research for a period from one month up to one year. Scientist can be directly invited by the steering committee or selected from applications made directly to this programme by individuals. For details regarding funding options, please contact the sDiv coordinator (marten.winter@idiv-biodiversity.de).


To ensure mutual benefits and efficient communication between iDiv scientists and sDiv participants, sabbatical scientists should give a presentation in the first month after arrival. Sabbaticals will also act as mentors for sDiv postdocs and will be expected to give ad-hoc presentations about their own research.


Wissenschaftlicher Koordinator

Dr. Marten Winter


sDiv zentral


Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

Deutscher Platz 5e

04103 Leipzig


Tel: +49 341 9733130

Fax: +49 341 9739358


Decisions for second sDiv call are made

sDiv has just made the final decisions for funding five international workshops. More information here.

New sDiv Postdoc started: Anne Bjorkman

In July, Anne Bjork started as our new sDiv Postdoc in Leipzig. Please see here for her profile and previous career.