2 PhD positions in Behavioural Ecology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

Project 1: Climate-related reproductive plasticity in male birds
Project Aims
Some Australian bird species have extended reproductive seasons, and breed across a wide range of social and environmental conditions. In such species males may have to maintain the production of viable sperm for prolonged periods (relative to well-studied species from the northern hemisphere). This project will examine individual strategies in sperm production against both climatic and social variation in two species of arid zone bird on which we have been conducting long-term behavioural and ecological research (the zebra finch and the chestnut-crowned babbler). This project develops on our recent work into both these species that has illuminated complex social and environmental sources of variation into reproductive investment. The project addresses questions relating to sperm competition, cooperative breeding, sexual conflict and climate change.
This project will involve long periods of field-work at a remote field station along with microscopy and molecular work to be conducted in the laboratory of Simon Griffith (Biological Sciences) at Macquarie University (Sydney). The project will also involve collaboration with Kate Buchanan (Deakin University), Andy Russell (Exeter University, UK), and Melissah Rowe (University of Oslo, Norway).

Project 2: The genetics of domestication in two model finches
Project Aims
The zebra finch and Gouldian finch are important captive model systems for the study of a broad range of questions in biology and most of this research is focused on highly domesticated populations that are sourced from populations of birds sourced from amateur aviculturists. This project will use a range of molecular approaches to investigate the effect of domestication on population genetics and genomic variation in these two species. In broad terms the project will use approaches from classical population genetics and emerging genomic techniques to investigate the genetic variation in domestic populations across the world and the selection that has resulted from many generations of artificial selection over the past century. This project develops on our recent work into both these species that has illuminated consistent differences between wild and domesticated populations in the nature of selection on a variety of life history and behavioural traits.
The project is based in the laboratory of Simon Griffith (Biological Sciences) and would involve collaboration with Lee Ann Rollins (Deakin University) and Terry Burke & (Sheffield University, UK).

Both of these projects are supported by ongoing ARC funding. Scholarships are available for residents from Australia or New Zealand but there will also be possibilities for international students to get scholarship funding.

The 2013 MQRES full-time stipend rate is $24,653 pa tax exempt for 3.5 years (indexed annually). In addition to external grant support for the project, up to $20,000 is available to cover direct research expenses and domestic conference travel. Additional internal funding opportunities of up to $10,000 are available to support travel to overseas laboratories or to attend international conferences.

Prospective applicants should have a first class Honours degree or equivalent, and additional relevant research experience and/or qualifications. A demonstrated ability to work in remote and harsh conditions as well as extensive experience with capturing and handling birds is desirable. A full driving licence is necessary.

Applications should include 1) your CV, 2) a brief statement of your reasons for applying (max. 500 words) and the project you are applying to work on, and 3) contact details of two academic referees. Applications should be submitted electronically as a single PDF file.

Applications for this position are required by May 10th 2013 and should be sent electronically to: simon.griffith@mq.edu

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