4-Year PhD Studentship Animal Behaviour ~ Bioblogia.net

25 de enero de 2011

4-Year PhD Studentship Animal Behaviour

What makes a winning team? Tests of collective performance in animal groups

One way that animal groups cope with uncertainty in their environment (i.e. where resources and threats do not change predictably in time or space) is to draw upon one another's particular expertise or information. For instance, we know that summing information possessed by individual group-members can increase the "collective cognition" of groups; a concept which has attracted much attention in the media and been termed "the wisdom of crowds". Larger and/or more diverse groups may also contain individuals with different skills and experiences, which increase the chances of a group solving a given task. We now have a number of mathematical models that make clear predictions about how group size, and individual diversity of information impacts on collective performance of animal groups. This PhD studentship, supervised by Drs Andrew King and Andrew Spence (RVC), and Dr Andrea Manica (University of Cambridge) will test models of collective performance, and delineate the exact conditions under which groups follow an informed leader or aggregate information across group members when faced with simple foraging choices. Experiments will be primarily conducted in the laboratory, using stickleback fish (Gasterosteus spp.), and their performance tracked in real-time using sophisticated video-tracking software. There will also be opportunity for conducting similar experiments with sheep flocks and human crowds. Suitable candidates should hold a first degree in biological or veterinary sciences, and show an enthusiasm for attacking a variety of fundamental behavioural and evolutionary research questions.

* Harcourt, J.L., Sweetman, G., Manica, A., & Johnstone, R.A. (2010) Pairs of fish resolve conflicts over coordinated movement by taking turns. Current Biology 20: 156-160
* King, A. J., Johnson, D. D. P. & Van Vugt, M. (2009) The origins and evolution of leadership. Current Biology 19: 911-916.
* Katsikopoulos, K. & King, A. J. (2010) Swarm intelligence in animal groups: When can a collective out-perform an expert? PLoS one. 5(11): e15505.

Supervisors:
Dr Andrew King (http://www.rvc.ac.uk/Staff/ajking.cfm)
Dr Andrew Spence (http://www.rvc.ac.uk/Staff/aspence.cfm)
Dr Andrea Manica (http://www.zoo.cam.ac.uk/zoostaff/manica/manica.htm)

The application deadline is 11 February 2011.

Please contact Dr Andrew King (ajking@rvc.ac.uk) with any questions or queries.
To apply, please follow the instructions on the RVC website: http://www.rvc.ac.uk/Postgraduate/PhD/HowDoIApply.cfm

(FindAPhd.com advert: http://www.findaphd.com/search/showproject.asp?projectid=31546&inst=LOND-RVTC&searchtype=i&theorder=2&page=1)

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