Postdoc position in physiology and behavior (South Africa) ~

9 de enero de 2014

Postdoc position in physiology and behavior (South Africa)

Reducing Daily Energy Expenditure as an Adaptive Responses to Droughts:

Physiology and Behavior

(University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; Succulent Karoo Research
Station; CNRS Strasbourg, France)

A 24 month postdoc position is available in the fields of Eco-Physiology and
Behavioral Ecology in the Striped Mouse Research Group
of Neville Pillay
and Carsten Schradin The
postdoc will be employed by the University of the Witwatersrand, collect
data in the field at the Succulent Karoo Research Station, and do lab work
at the Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien, Département d'Ecologie
Physiologie et Ethologie (DEPE), France's largest eco-physiology lab with
one the world's best isotope laboratories lead by Stephane Blanc

Research topic. Biologists study how species survive and reproduce in a
changing world. The postdoc will study behavioral and physiological
adaptation to droughts, one consequence of global warming, asking whether
and how individuals can decrease their energy expenditure during periods
with low food availability. Energy availability restricts survival and
reproduction and often changes seasonally, such that animals have to adjust
their energy expenditure. Measuring changes in resting metabolic rate (RMR)
can help us to understand the extent to which animals can reduce their basal
metabolism during periods of food shortage. Behavioral changes, especially
reduced activity, might reduce energy expenditure to a larger extent than a
reduction in RMR can, and both processes might co-occur. Thus, to answer the
question how animals can cope with reduced energy availability it is crucial
to understand whether they can reduce daily energy expenditure (DEE) and to
measure changes in both behavior and in RMR to understand the underlying

The postdoc will study striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) in South Africa
during their annual dry season. The field site is well established, and the
population has been permanently monitored by a team at the research station
for over a decade. All field techniques have been used successfully
previously but not in combination. The postdoc will measure RMR using
respirometry, and he / she will do behavioral observations to determine
activity budgets. Blood samples will be collected and analyzed in Strasbourg
to determine DEE, water turnover, and body composition using the
doubly-labeled water method.


1.            Compare RMR between moist and dry seasons.

2.            Compare activity budgets between moist and dry season.

3.            Compare DEE between moist and dry season.

4.            By comparing results obtained from 3. with 1. and 2. we will
be able to estimate the level of energy savings due to reduction in RMR and
reduction in activity.

5.            We can also calculate the water turnover and thus water
savings due to reduced energy expenditure, which will be crucial to survive
drought periods characterized by water limitation.

6.            We will determine body composition (fat content) during
different seasons.

Salary: This position is funded by the University of the Witwatersrand with
a very competitive salary of R154 000/ year, which allows for a comfortable
standard of living in South Africa. In addition, medical aid is paid by the
University as well as relocation costs of R10 000.

Starting date: May 2014.

Profile and requirements for the candidate:

-             Must have ontained the PhD within the last 5 years (2009 or

-             You can produce outstanding academic results!

-             Strong background in eco-physiology and/or behavioral ecology.

-             Very good writing skills proven by a good publication record.

-             Enthusiastic about field work with the willingness to spend
6-9 months /year in the field.

-             Good personal skills and working with an established research

-             Good technical skills.

-             Strong experimental, analytical and statistical skills.

-             Good organizational skills and the ability to work

Applicants should send a cover letter detailing their motivation and
expectations from this position, and a CV (combined into a single PDF), as
well as contact information for two or more referees to Neville Pillay
( and Carsten Schradin

Deadline: For full consideration, send your application until the 16th
February. Skype interviews are scheduled for end of February / beginning of

Dr. Carsten Schradin

Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien
Département d'Ecologie Physiologie et Ethologie
23, rue Becquerel
67087 Strasbourg cedex 2, France
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 10 69 19

PD at the University of Zurich, Switzerland

Honorary Associate Professor at the School of Animal, Plant and
Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South

Director of the Succulent Karoo Research Station (South African non-profit
organization), Goegap Nature Reserve, PO Box 1010, 8240 Springbok, South

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