FPI (Nacional Plan) Ph.D Position ~ Bioblogia.net

11 de febrero de 2011

FPI (Nacional Plan) Ph.D Position

Whithin the frame of the ´SUBPROGRAMA DE PROYECTOS DE INVESTIGACIÓN FUNDAMENTAL NO ORIENTADA. CONVOCATORIA 2010, of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation there will be a 4 year Ph.D. position assigned to the project: AGL2010-18276 (subprogram GAN) entitle´Modeling goup size and phenotypic apeareance through game theory for the optimization of the welfare, health and performance of laying hens´.

Dr. Inmaculada Estevez
Ikerbasque Research Professor
Neiker-Tecnalia, Arkaute Agrifood Campus
Animal Production, P.O. Box 46
E-01080 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
Telf: (34) 945-121336

MICINN FPI GRANTS: http://www.micinn.es/portal/site/MICINN/menuitem.dbc68b34d11ccbd5d52ffeb801432ea0/?vgnextoid=07ffe142b621d210VgnVCM1000001d04140aRCRD&vgnextchannel=8da5b9746e160210VgnVCM1000001034e20aRCRD

The changes resulting from the European Directive (1999/74/EC) for the welfare of laying hens has serious economic implications for the poultry industry. However, one of the main problems stems from the fact that in alternative production systems, both in enriched (furnished) cages, as in various avian models (with or without access to parks), birds enjoy more behavioural freedom, but also have higher opportunities to develop problematic social interactions that can have a negative impact on the welfare, health and productivity of laying hens. These behavioural problems, that can be measure in millions of Euros in lost production for the industry, include primarily, increased aggression, feather pecking and cannibalism; complications that could be even larger if the European Legislation banishes the use of beak trimming as a suitable management practice in poultry flocks, as is speculated will happen in the not too distant future. Nowadays the use of beak trimming is a required practice to prevent massive mortalities due to cannibalism. The appearance of these unwanted behaviours appears to be related with the number of animals in the group, a parameter which, on the other hand, is critical to determine the choice of enriched cage to be used in production systems. Besides, in experimental situations as well as in commercial practice, it has been observed that individuals with different phenotypic appearance to the most common phenotype tends to be pecked with greater intensity, not infrequently ending with the death of the animal. The main objective of the proposed project is to analyze the impact of changes in group size and phenotypic appearance on welfare, health and performance of laying hens kept in production systems according to the European directive (1999/74 / EC.). In addition, we intend to develop a mathematical model based on game theory and to conduct mathematical simulations to determine optimal group size and the implications of the individual phenotypical appearance to maximize the health, welfare and performance of laying hens. To achieve this objective we will conduct a battery of experiments, arranged in three phases, in which we progressively will manipulate both the number of birds per group, and the degree of phenotypic diversity by artificially altering the phenotypic appearance of the individuals. It would be unrealistic to experimentally test all the potential group sizes from one to several thousand birds that can be maintain in a group, therefore for this purpose we will use mathematical models to predict the corresponding outcomes. Therefore, in this study the merger between two diverse disciplines such as applied animal behaviour and game theory will allow us to explore and propose social behaviour models that can be use to establish predictions for tested as well as untested group sizes and their subsequent outcomes in terms of welfare, health and performance. For this purpose the data generated in the animal experiments will be feed into the game theory models, by creating cost-benefits matrixes (based on real data) for each social grouping. The results of the calculations will help us to deepen on the mechanisms that determine the social choices, or behavioural strategies in each case. The generated information by means of the animal experiments and mathematical models to be use in this study will allow us to obtain solid information on social dynamics of laying hens that can be latter apply to generate new management strategies to control unwanted behaviours. Thus, in the long term this study allow us to improve the welfare of laying hens, but also to reduce production costs due to losses in egg production. Finally, to remark that the new generated methodologies are susceptible of application to address a wide range of management problems in animal production.

A superior degree in:
Biology, Veterinary Science, Agronomy, Mathematics
Good English knowledge
High organization skills
Passion for science!


• Salary.
• For those students that are granted by the FPI program, there is also the option to obtain
funding for temporary stays in another organization in Spain or abroad.

4 years maximum (2 years grant + 2 years training contract).

Maximum period is 48 months, divided in 2 subperiods:

1st sub-period (maximum of 24 months): Grant. The applicant must obtain the DEA,
exceed 60 credits, or obtain the Master of the post grade program. tt is subsidized
with 1.142 € monthly.

2nd sub- period (maximum of 24 months): Training Contract. FPI-MICINN is
subsidized with 16.422 € annually.


• Application must be prepared by applicant students by using next website supplied by the
• Each candidate can submit two applications marking the priority.
• Once all the information has been fulfilled and submitted electronically, a printable
application document will be generated by the website. This document should be signed
and sent by postal delivery to: Registro del Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación de la calle
Ramírez de Arellano, 29, 28071, Madrid

Application must be prepared by the candidates on next website supplied by the Ministry:

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