Category Archives: Jobs / studentships

PhD position available at Imperial College London

Linking infidelity with behaviour in social networks

Project Description

Infidelity is common among many taxa with prevailing social monogamy, but we still do not know what shapes variation in, and drives the evolution of, extra-pair behaviour. Males are expected to reap fitness benefits from siring extra-pair offspring, because extra-pair fathers do not expend resources on costly parental care. This is, however, not the case for females who raise the resulting extra-pair young, posing the question of why females take part in extra-pair matings. The indirect benefits hypothesis explains female infidelity, where females benefit indirectly from better, or more compatible genes for their offspring. However, this hypothesis is not well supported empirically, evidenced by two contradictory meta-analyses on the topic, and ongoing discussion in the field. Specifically, only one long-term study that quantified life-time reproductive success supports the indirect fitness benefits hypothesis. Contradicting this result, extra-pair males have not been found to be superior, or more compatible, than a female’s within-pair male. Females were found to incur no indirect benefits, and even fitness costs by mating outside of their pair bond, suggesting that that this hypothesis does not satisfactorily explain why females cheat. Recently suggested novel, testable hypotheses provide a fresh perspective. These hypotheses explain female infidelity with intra- and intersexual antagonistic pleiotropy, and remain largely untested. This project aims to empirically test these hypotheses by using the powerful combination of long-term data from a wild population, state-of-the-art social network analysis and manipulative experiments on captive birds. This project will reap the benefits from long-term data in the wild, where precise fitness data and a genetic pedigree allow fitness costs and benefits to be measured, and quantitative genetic analyses. Given the long-standing conundrum of female extra-pair behaviour, this project has the potential forward this field significantly.

For more information, contact julia.schroeder[a]

Two funded PhD projects in evolution/genetics/genomics/development of snails, Dec 8th deadline

The Davison lab at the University of Nottingham is seeking enthusiastic and well-qualified students to apply for two PhD positions, both funded by the BBSRC DTP. Full details here; apply here. I would strongly encourage good candidates to email me if you have any queries prior to the application; feel free to contact current PhD students Daniel or Hannah if you have any queries relating to lab life / the University / Nottingham.

In previous research, the Davison-lab led an international team dedicated to finding the gene that determines mirror image development (“chirality”) in the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis. More generally, we are using molluscan genomics, with projects dedicated to finding evolutionary interesting genes, whether chiral variation in Japanese Euhadra or the colour polymorphism / supergene of Cepaea. Field work and foreign lab work is always an option – recent students spent 5 months in a German lab or undertook field work in Japan; current PhD students are working in the Spanish Pyrenees and Hawaii. The lab also has a strong background in science communication.

Project #1: “The evolution and development of left-right asymmetry in snails”

Project supervisors: Dr Angus Davison and Dr William Brown, University of Nottingham, UK.

While invariant left/right asymmetry appears to be the rule in nearly all animals, until recently it has not been clear if the path to asymmetry is conserved. In recent research we identified the one in a billion base pair change that determines mirror image development (“chirality”) in the pond snail. As we also showed that the same gene is similarly involved in setting up asymmetry in the frog, then our work that began in snails ultimately revealed one of the earliest common symmetry-breaking steps across the whole of the Bilateria. The next stage is to ‘unravel’ symmetry breaking at the molecular and cellular level, in particular to find the set of genes that first establish asymmetry. In this exciting and fast-moving, the student will seek to understand the mechanics of the very earliest symmetry-breaking steps using Lymnaea stagnalis pond snails, or another species. Most likely, this will involve a range of techniques, from micromanipulation to genomics/bioinformatics, and possibly fieldwork – with the balance determined by the interests of the student.

The project is competitively funded through the ‘Molecules, Cells and Organisms’ stream of the Nottingham BBSRC DTP. Applicants should have, or expect to get, a First Class or Upper Second degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Further experience, including a Masters degree, is likely to be advantageous. Applications are open to UK + EU residents (EU students will be considered and may be eligible for full funding). This project is also advertised here and here on Findaphd.

Project #2: “Genetic approaches to understanding molluscan crop pests”

Project supervisors: Dr Angus Davison, Dr Chris Wade and Dr Matt Loose, University of Nottingham, UK.

Snails and slugs cause worldwide problems, both in terms of direct damage to crops, and as intermediate vectors for diseases of farm animals. Yet, they are difficult to identify and we have little idea of what influences their distributions, hindering appropriate control measures. Genetic techniques offer a potential solution in that they can be used to understand gene-flow, the relationship and taxonomy of different species, and, ultimately, the genes involved in enabling adaptation to human-affected environments. However, molluscs in general are relatively lacking in genomic resources, partly because they generally have large genomes, but also because there is no single model mollusc to drive research forward. In this project, the student will apply population genetic, phylogenetic and genomic methods (e.g. RAD-seq) to a tropical snail species, with a view to understanding the adaptations that enable it to become invasive. With suitable resources in place, we hope to get a more general picture of invasive species and crop pests.

Note: this project and the lab rotations that come before it will be run as a ‘training triangle’, involving training in population genetics, phylogenetics and genomics. We anticipate that the final PhD research project will involve a balance of these different aspects, dependent upon the interests and skills of the students.

The project is competitively funded through the ‘AFS’ stream of the Nottingham BBSRC DTP. Applicants should have, or expect to get, a First Class or Upper Second degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Further experience, including a Masters degree, is likely to be advantageous. Applications are open to UK + EU residents (EU students will be considered and may be eligible for full funding). This project is also advertised here

As part of the Sanger 25th anniversary celebration, the public is being asked to vote on which species should have their genome sequenced. The original plan had been to sequence ‘Jeremy’ but following an untimely death, Jeremy’s partner ‘Tomeu’ is representing the brown garden snail.

Vote snail!

All about team Tomeu and the brown garden snail:

Dr. Angus Davison
Reader and Associate Professor in Evolutionary Genetics
School of Life Sciences
University Park
University of Nottingham
0115 8230322

@angus_davison (or @leftysnail)

PhD – Leibniz IZW, Berlin -Deadline 15/11

The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz IZW) in Berlin is Germany’s premier wildlife research institute. The Leibniz IZW focuses on the life histories and mechanisms of evolutionary adaptations of mammals and birds, their limits and their conservation in natural and anthropogenically influenced environments. The institute operates within the fields of evolutionary ecology, evolutionary genetics, wildlife diseases, reproduction biology and reproduction management. For an interdisciplinary externally funded project on

Epigenetic stability and plasticity of social environmental effects

the Leibniz IZW offers

1 PhD-position (50%) in Bioinformatics, Metagenomics and Computational Biology.

The health consequences to hosts of the microbiome, i.e. intestinal bacteria, and of the eukaryotic biome, i.e. the intestinal community of fungi and other protozoans plus unicellular and multicellular eukaryotes, are receiving increasing attention. Intestinal biomes can have both beneficial and pathogenic effects. The aim of this PhD project is to determine how social status, and most intriguing, changes in social status, influence the composition, diversity and gene content of intestinal biomes in a highly social carnivore, the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). In spotted hyenas as in other socially structured mammalian societies, social status determines access to food resources and thus profoundly affects key physiological processes, including investment in immunity, and Darwinian fitness. It is currently unknown whether social mobility over-rides life history trajectories set by the previous social environment.

Already collected faecal samples will be used to assess the composition and diversity of intestinal biomes in terms of mutualists, commensals and parasites under the supervision of Prof. Heitlinger. To identify differences in the gene content of the intestinal biome, a metagenomic approach will be used under the supervision of Prof. Soen. Status-specific differences in bacterial genes will then be related to status-specific differences in metabolism, host gene expression and immunity, which will be investigated in other project sections.

The position involves collaborative research between Prof. Emanuel Heitlinger, who holds a joint junior professorship position at Humboldt University Berlin/Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and Prof. Yoav Soen, who is the head of the Department of Biomolecular Sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Longer, regular visits to the Weizmann Institute are required.


? Completed MSc in bioinformatics, computational biology, or biology;

? Programming skills (e.g. Python, R) and proficiency working in a Unix/Linux command line environment;

? Background in statistical data analysis and good understanding of underlying mathematical principles;

? Experience in analyses of large scale sequencing datasets are beneficial, ideally for gut microbiome analyses, transcriptomics or similar;

? Experience working in a molecular biology laboratory is required, ideally experience in metagenomics;

? Experience with databases for computational biology;

? Reliability, high motivation and efficiency; ability to work independently and as part of a team;

? Strong organisational and communication skills; willingness to engage in collaboration for successful and timely implementation of the project and publication of results;

? Proficiency in English.

We offer state-of-the-art methodology and a stimulating research environment in an interdisciplinary, collaborative project. The position will start January 1st, 2018 and is limited to three years. Salary is 50 % according to TVöD (Bund). The place of employment is the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz IZW), Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, 10315 Berlin (Germany).

As a member of the Leibniz Association the Leibniz IZW is an equal opportunity employer, determined to increase the proportion of women in successful scientific careers, and particularly encourages women to apply. Preference will be given to disabled applicants with the same qualifications. Enquiries or further questions should be directed to Prof. Emanuel Heitlinger ( and Prof. Yoav Soen (

Applicants should upload a letter explaining their interests in and particular skills for this position, a CV, copies of relevant degrees, list of publications and names and contact details of two referees preferably before 15th of November 2017 (with interviews scheduled to be at the Leibniz IZW on the 5th December 2017 from 9 am onwards) via IZW’s online-job- application facility button Apply online”.

Edward W. Rose III Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

These competitive postdoctoral fellowship awards ( support innovative, independent research by early career scholars of exceptional promise. Multiple Rose Fellow positions are available annually, with applications due on September 8.

PhD Opportunity, Oxford University

Project Title: Harnessing novel technology and approaches to monitor and improve productivity of UK broiler breeders

Supervisor(s) names: Professor Tom Pizzari, Dr Grant McDonald (Department of Zoology, Oxford University) & Dr. Santiago Avendano (Aviagen®)

Deadline:  31 July 2017

More Information:PhDAdvert

postdoc on Genomics of senescence in the Seychelles warbler

Based in Leeds with Hannah Dugdale.

Conservation Genetics job – Edinburgh Zoo / WildGenes

The role

Due to the expansion of our team, an opportunity has arisen for a committed researcher to join the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland WildGenes lab. Reporting to the Conservation Programme Manager – Wildgenes in our Conservation team, the successful candidate will initiate, implement and disseminate conservation genetics projects in the WildGenes laboratory. Duties include assisting with the project management and analysis of genetic data for a diverse portfolio of conservation genetic projects.

Who we are looking for

The successful candidate will have a PhD in Conservation Genetics or Population Genetics/Genomics, a proven track record of scientific publication, and a commitment to conservation. You will enjoy working at multiple levels, from complex data analysis to presenting results to a wide range of audiences. Since our projects are based across the globe, the role will involve international travel and willingness to travel to attend meetings is therefore essential.

Applicants with additional background in any of the following disciplines will be welcomed: Quantitative Genetics, Population Modelling, Bioinformatics, Project Management within the conservation sector.

Closing date:      Sunday 28 May 2017

Dr Helen Senn

WildGenes Programme Manager
0131 314 0317

Great postdoc position with Frank Chan (Max Planck Institute, Tubingen)

Friedrich Miescher Laboratory, Max Planck Campus, Tübingen, Germany
A postdoctoral researcher position is available in the Chan Lab to work on a unique genomics dataset in mice, with the aim of understanding the molecular basis of phenotypic variation and response to selection in a population genetics and quantitative genetics framework.

We’re looking for a postdoc skilled in population and/or statistical genomics to take on the analysis of a replicated artificial selection experiment in mice. In order to study major morphological changes in a model organism, our collaborator, Dr. Campbell ROLIAN (Univ. of Calgary, Canada), has performed artificial selection for increased tibia length in mice (2 “Longshanks” selection lines & 1 control line, >6000 total individuals; see Marchini et al., 2014). Over 21 generations, the Longshanks selection experiment has produced 15-20% increase in tibia length but unchanged body mass relative to random-bred controls.

Having retained nearly all individuals from the entire selection experiment, we are now nearly finished with complete re-sequencing of all available breeders (~1800 individuals) in both Longshanks and control lines, with the ultimate goal of re-tracing the entire selection experiment in every individual, at every locus, in the entire genome.

You will work with the complete dataset in close coordination with Prof. Nick BARTON (IST Austria) and his team to link theory with empirical genomic data. Candidates must have a strong background in bioinformatics, including experience with genomic data analysis and strong quantitative and programming skills. Further background in population genetics and modelling will be an advantage. The postdoc will work closely with Prof. BARTON’s group, therefore she or he must show independence and ability to drive her/his own research project. You will enjoy excellent computational and sequencing support, as well as the opportunity to design and conduct functional tests in mice together with our wet-bench team members.
Our on-going work has found many loci showing very strong response to selection, with a substantial fraction of parallel response. Further dissection of top loci has identified specific mutations in limb enhancers. Our functional test in mice showed that these mutations modulate enhancer activity in a way consistent with increased tibia length.
Together with the ROLIAN and BARTON groups, we will study the selection response from multiple angles, ranging from trait mapping, population genomics, theory to developmental genetics. The Longshanks selection experiment combines quantitative, developmental and population genetics and offers a unique opportunity to study how the genome responds to strong selection in a model paradigm.
The Max Planck Campus in Tübingen, Germany is one of the leading campuses in evolutionary genomics research. The Chan Lab enjoys generous funding support by the Max Planck Society as well as the European Research Council (ERC). Our campus hosts world-class research groups, including a Nobel laureate and multiple ERC-funded teams (groups active in evolutionary genomics include Felicity Jones, Detlef Weigel, Ralf Sommer and Ruth Ley). We operate state-of-the-art sequencing (Illumina, PacBio and others) and other core facilities. All seminars and communications are in English.
For informal enquiries and applications (cover letter, CV, and two reference contacts), please e-mail Consideration of applications will begin on 14 May, 2017, with a target start date of Sept 2017. The actual start is flexible.

[1] Marchini M., Sparrow, L.M., … Rolian C., BMC Evolutionary Biology 2014 14:258, doi: 10.1186/s12862-014-0258-0

[2] Cosman M.N., Sparrow, L.M., Rolian, C., Journal of Anatomy, 2016 228:6, doi: 10.1111/joa.12459


Frank Chan
Max Planck Research Group Leader
Friedrich Miescher Laboratory of the Max Planck Society
Spemannstrasse 39
72076 Tübingen

T: +49 (0)7071 601 888
F: +49 (0)7071 601 801

4 PhD positions, Griffith Ecology lab, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

We  have several PhD positions available in the Griffith Ecology lab at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.
Please see details below, and at
4 PhD positions in Behavioural and Physiological Ecology
at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
We are pleased to announce multiple opportunities available for a start from mid to late 2017
1Adapting to a foreign climate: the reproductive ecology of the house sparrow in Australia
The house sparrow (Passer domesticus) was introduced into Australia in the 1860’s and has since become well established across a broad range of climates in both countries. This project will take advantage of this ‘experimental’ introduction to focus on behavioural and physiological adaptations to different climates through a field-based comparative approach. This research will complement our existing work on related questions in endemic Australian species and will provide insight into the capacity of avian species to adapt to changing climates. This project will involve periods of field-work in Broken Hill, Armidale and Hobart in Australia, along with a range of behavioural, molecular and physiological assays. The project will involve collaboration with other groups in Australia and the US.
2The challenge of growing in a hot climate (in the zebra finch)
In recent years we have characterised the very hot conditions in which zebra finches are raised (with nests often reaching temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius, as well as identifying adverse effects of these conditions on embryonic development, offspring growth, and adult sperm. This project is supported by an ARC funded project and will investigate the adaptations that this iconic and well-studied species has to deal with the extreme climate in which it lives. The project will take a variety of approaches including behavioural work, and assays of metabolism and physiology, and combine fieldwork and laboratory work. The project will be run in collaboration with Dr Christine Cooper (Curtin University, Western Australia), Prof. Pierre Deviche (Arizona State University, US), and Prof. Pat Monaghan (Glasgow, UK).
3: Social structuring and life-history in free-ranging domestic sheep
In this project we will examine the importance of social structure and collective intelligence to life-history trade-offs and productivity in domestic sheep in the rangelands of Australia. The project will use tools from social network theory and spatial ecology to characterise individual and group behaviour and investigate their effect on individual quality and productivity (lambs and wool) in this challenging, but economically important part of Australia. The project will be based at Fowlers Gap (near Broken Hill in the arid zone) and require field work and well-developed analytical skills. This work will be run in collaboration with partners in the pastoral industry and be jointly supervised by Dr Stephan Leu (also at Macquarie University).
4: Parasite transmission dynamics in an Australian lizard
This project will investigate the relationship between host spatial and social behaviour and bacterial transmission. It combines social network theory, spatial ecology and wildlife epidemiology to determine how different bacterial strains are transmitted through the population and how individual behaviour and consequently population social structure changes as a function of infection status. The project combines the analysis of a very comprehensive (already collected) dataset with scope for the student to develop his/her own ideas and conduct fieldwork. The student should be interested in social networks and disease modelling and have strong analytical skills. This project will be jointly supervised by Dr Stephan Leu and A/Prof Martin Whiting (both at Macquarie University). We also have strong relationships with disease modelling colleagues in the US.
The Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University is a vibrant environment which offers excellent support to postgraduate students. A Macquarie University Excellence in Research Scholarship has already been assigned to one of these projects, but there are other scholarship opportunities available to suitably competitive candidates. International candidates are welcome to apply for any of the projects listed above.
The 2014 MQRES full-time stipend rate is $26,682 pa tax exempt for 3 years (indexed annually). In addition to external grant support for projects, there is additional internal funding (up to $17,000) available to cover direct research expenses and conference travel.
Applicants should ideally have a research-based MSc in a related discipline (with a minimum 50% research component), and additional relevant research experience, qualifications, and details of awards or prizes. For projects 1, 2, and 4 an ability to work in remote and harsh conditions as well as experience in capturing and handling animals is desirable. A driving licence is required for all projects.
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, 3) contact details of two academic referees, 4) your nationality (for scholarship eligibility purposes). Applications should be submitted electronically as a single PDF file.
Applications for these positions (and any initial enquiries) should be emailed by 7th April 2017 to:
Prof. Simon Griffith, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia

ornithological field technician positions, Univ. of York

We are seeking to recruit three research technicians for a collaborative project (University of York and Natural England), based at the Humberhead Peatlands NNR, near Doncaster.

The project is part of a wider EU LIFE+ funded project called ‘That’s LIFE’, focusing on the restoration of lowland blanket bog through scrub removal and re-wetting. The Humberhead Peatlands is an SPA for its breeding population of nightjars and an SAC for its lowland bog habitat.

The nightjar project fieldwork aims to collect data on any behavioural and population changes that occur as a result of this restoration work. The work involves ringing, tagging and tracking European nightjars, as well as nest finding to investigate breeding productivity and exploring their food resources through moth trapping on the NNR from June to August 2017.

We are able to offer some shared accommodation close to the field sites. Fieldwork involves long hours in the field, primarily overnight, with some afternoon work required. In addition, staff will assist with maintenance of kit and recording of data. The work will be conducted in small teams of employees, students and volunteers.

Position 1: Senior avian research technician

We are seeking an experienced avian field technician (grade 4 ~ £20,624 pro rata dependent on experience). One person required for 8 -10 weeks, on a full-time basis.

The ideal candidate would have:

  • A or C-permit ringing licence
  • Experience of ornithological fieldwork, particularly ringing and breeding surveys
  • Experience of, and enthusiasm for, working outdoors
  • Full, clean driving licence
  • Good physical fitness

Desirable criteria:

  • Experience of fitting or using radio/GPS tags
  • Own transport

Positions 2 & 3: Research technicians (grade 3 ~ £17,898 pro rata dependent on experience). Duration – 6-8 weeks

We are also seeking two field assistants (grade 3) who would have a T or C ringing permit, or at a minimum some experience of handling birds.

This position would additionally require a full clean driver’s licence, some experience of outdoor fieldwork, and the ability to work enthusiastically in small teams for long hours in the field.

All positions would start June 1st (approx.) 2017, and would continue until mid-August.

Position 4/5: Student internship

Starting end of June
Ecology / zoology degree
Fieldwork experience desirable but not essential
Can develop own project for dissertation

Accommodation and small stipend offered

If you are interested in the role please contact Dr Kathryn Arnold, with your CV, references and a short covering letter, detailing previous experience.

For informal enquiries, please contact Lucy Ryan (PhD Student)

Deadline 14th April 2017

Please note that the positions will be offered subject to satisfactory references, check of eligibility to work in the U.K. (verified copy of passport) and proof of qualifications if necessary.

Whilst we will attempt to reply to all candidates, the volume of applications we receive may mean that this is not possible. If you have not heard from us within three weeks of the closing date, you should assume that your application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

Lucy Ryan, PhD Student
Environment Department
Wentworth Way
University of York
York, YO10 5DD