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BBSRC PhD Studentship in Conservation Genetics

Using molecular genetics to help reconcile food production and biodiversity conservation

With growing demand for food, adverse effects of agriculture on biodiversity will increase. This multidisciplinary project seeks to discover how to strike the best balance for land use by inferring which species of bird are most at risk from population reductions caused by past and future agricultural development. Specifically the student will use genetic population reconstructions to identify what sorts of species have always been rare, which have increased in abundance and which have declined as the area under crops and pasture has grown. Using a mixture of published and new genetic data, late Pleistocene/Holocene population histories will be estimated for a range of birds representing different ecological niches (e.g. woodland, wetland, dry open habitats). The resulting data will be interpreted in the context of current land use and reconstructions of past vegetation cover. Relevant skills include population genetics, molecular genetics, use of computer programmes like BEAST and STRUCTURE, database management and statistics. The successful candidate will have experience in one or more of these, though probably not all, but should be afraid of none!

Being multidisciplinary, the project will be supervised by three people with complementary expertise: Prof. William Amos (primary supervisor), Prof. Andrew Balmford and Prof. Rhys Green.

Drummond et al. 2005. Mol. Biol. Evol. 22: 1185. Phalan et al. 2011. Science 333: 1289
Arbabi et al. 2014. Ibis 156: 799.
This is a strategic BBSRC studentship beginning in October 2015. The successful candidate will be part of the Cambridge BBSRC DTP (, and will be based in the Department of Zoology for their PhD. To apply, please send your CV and 1-2 page research proposal to Professor William Amos,, by 23 Jan 2015. Shortlisted candidates will be called for interview in Cambridge, which will take place between 16 and 24 February 2015.


Paula Stockley has a post-doc to investigate how competition affects
co-operative behaviour between female kin in wild house mice:


Molecular Ecology Research Technician

We are hiring a molecular ecology research technician to develop microsatellites and conduct genotyping.

This is a six month full-time position, starting 1st Dec. Deadline is 5th Nov, and interviews are likely to take place on 14th Nov.


Marine Evolutionary Genomics & Proteomics workshop (Live Web Streaming)

Dear all,

We are streaming live the talks from the MEGP workshop (University of Vigo, Spain) on the Campus do Mar TV website ( You can have a look at the programme at our web ( The live streaming will only be available for the first day of the workshop (tuesday 14th october). The practical sessions will be recorded and uploaded in a few weeks time. The talks from day 1 will also be uploaded on this web at that time.

best wishes to all (including Andy and ME)

juan galindo (University of Vigo)

Venue for all Warbler/Sparrow meeting talks

Hi All,

The venue for all warbler/sparrow talks, regardless of the programme, is F02a in Firth court. Directions from Terry:

Enter the main Firth Court entrance. Head past the porters’ lodge and turn left, avoiding the grand staircase in front of you. Take the stairs along the corridor instead and climb 3 flights to F floor. Exit the staircase and you will be roughly adjacent to FO2a. There should be coffee waiting.


Warbler/Sparrow talks next week

Hi All,

Many people are already going to ASAB, but for those who are keen to see more, there is a parallel conference going on about the work done by the Seychelles warbler group and the Lundy house sparrow group. Talks are open to all:



postdoc in NZ with Neil Gemmell – molecular basis of sex reversal in sequentially hermaphroditic fish

Hi all,
great looking postdoc in Neil Gemmell’s lab at University of Otago, New Zealand.

Postdoctoral Opportunity – The molecular basis of sex reversal in sequentially hermaphroditic fish

We are currently seeking an outstanding postdoctoral researcher with interests in genetics, evolution, physiology and behavioural ecology to conduct research into the genetic basis of sex reversal in sequentially hermaphroditic fish.
Project Description: Most plants and animals irreversibly differentiate becoming either males or females. However, in some groups, notably fishes, individuals begin life as one sex and reverse sex sometime later in response to social cues (sequential hermaphrodism). Sex reversal in sequential hermaphrodites is complete, entailing radical restructuring of the gonad, alterations in morphology, and modifications to behaviour. The molecular basis of this stunning transformation is unknown, but is of intense interest, not only as a means to enhance our understanding of sex determination and differentiation, cellular commitment and tissue re-engineering, but also as a spectacular example of phenotypic plasticity in response to environment. Using the ubiquitous NZ spotty, together with two distant tropical relatives, the bluehead and three-spotted wrasse, both leading models for sex reversal, we will undertake a series of experiments to determine the genetic pathway underlying this stunning transformation. We will couple in the field ecological manipulations to produce a time series of samples taken during the process of sex reversal, with state-of-the art gene expression analyses and comparative genomic approaches, to identify both the primary trigger and subsequent genetic cascade that results in female-male sex reversal in fishes.
The project emerges from a new Marsden Grant headed by Professor Neil Gemmell and will be based in the Gemmell laboratory at the University of Otago.
The Ideal Candidate: Applications are invited from postdoctoral candidates who have experience in molecular biology, evolutionary and population genetics/genomics, and bioinformatics. The successful candidate will likely be
skilled in molecular genetic techniques and in the analysis of genetic data and associated statistics. They will be highly self-motivated and be able to work alongside a wide variety of people. In addition they will have a strong commitment to research excellence with a track record of high research productivity based on international, peer-reviewed publications commensurate for their career stage.
How to Apply: Interested applicants are encouraged to make informal enquiries to Professor Neil Gemmell. Please send your Curriculum Vitae, a sample of your written scientific work and the names of three referees with a covering
letter to: Professor Neil J. Gemmell
Formal Applications must be made at:
Salary Level and Range: Postdoctoral Fellow ($72,046)
Reference Number: 1400626
Closing Date: Thursday, 17 April 2014

Evoldir software message of interest to lab

I work with population genetics and population structure of honey
bees. Therefore I had been writing some R scripts for my personal use
and someone recently suggested that I make it into a package that can
be shared. Therefore I have recently put together some useful stuff into
an R package called pophelper.

Basically, this R package does what STRUCTURE HARVESTER does. pophelper
works with structure and TESS output files. I think it may be useful
for people working with STRUCTURE, TESS and R. This package requires
some basic R skills to use. pophelper can be used to tabulate runs,
summarise them, perform Evanno method, export to CLUMPP format, generate
barplot figures etc.

The package can be installed from github for the moment. Once a stable
version is established, it will be uploaded to CRAN.

I would very much appreciate if you could share this with the community. I
am also hoping people are willing to give this a try and provide some
feedback/comments/suggestions/criticisms etc. Feel free to contact me
at if you run into any issues or have any
questions etc.

Sincerely,Roy Francis

DNA from feathers

Hi everyone!
I have recently met a research fellow, Rachael Shaw, who is studying cognition in New Zealand North Island robins, and she is about to start her fieldwork sampling. The conservation manager she is working with routinely takes feather samples when banding, and Rachael was wondering whether these could be used for sexing and microsat genotyping for parentage analysis? Does anyone have any experience genotyping from feathers, what extraction methods worked best, and whether there was an optimal way to store the feathers to minimise degradation?
Many thanks for any help you can offer!
Anna Santure (

Come to NZ!

Hi everyone!

I am missing you all and very keen to keep up collaborations with the Mol Ecol Lab. So, if you are thinking about your next step please consider collaborating with me in Auckland, perhaps by
-applying for a fellowship e.g. Marie Curie (we can make a good case for e.g. NZ offering excellent learning opportunities in quantitative genetics)
-applying for some money for a short term visit (e.g.,, or from UK institutions such as the Royal Society
-stopping by after a conference “nearby”
-thinking about PhD studies abroad (e.g. Commonwealth scholarships are likely to be offered to UK citizens wanting to come to NZ, see, Auckland offers PhD scholarships open to international students:

I am currently developing projects working with some wonderful NZ species including hihi and Stewart Island robin – in particular, I am very interested in the genetic basis of quantitative traits in these populations and how this might constrain the adaptive response of the species e.g. in response to climate change.

Please pass on my contact details to any postdocs or students who might be interested in collaborating and we can investigate funding opportunities together.

Anna Santure

P.S. It goes without saying that social visits are welcome any time!