Multiple PhD positions at the Max Planck Department of Collective Behavior (Konstanz, Germany) ~

23 de diciembre de 2015

Multiple PhD positions at the Max Planck Department of Collective Behavior (Konstanz, Germany)

We should be very grateful if you could forward the below advertisements for PhD positions at the Max Planck Department of Collective Behavior at the University of Konstanz, Germany. All positions are fully funded, and successful candidates will be fellows of our International Max Planck Research School for Organismal Biology

Further information about our collective behaviour research can be found here:

We welcome informal inquiries.

PhDs in Collective Animal Behaviour
Couzin Lab

Understanding collective action in biological processes is a central challenge, essential for achieving progress in a variety of fields including the coordinated communication among cells, or animals, to the dynamics of information exchange among sophisticated organisms, and the emergence of complex societies. Consequently the study of collective behaviour naturally spans scales, from how neural circuits control individual behaviour in a social context, to the analogous issue of determining the structure and function of the communication network among organisms that gives rise to emergent group, and population-level, behaviour.

We seek multiple PhD candidates to join our highly international, collaborative and interdisciplinary research group to investigating the behaviour and evolution of collective animal behaviour in the lab and/or field. We are interested in both invertebrates (e.g. locusts) and vertebrates (e.g. fish, birds) and those applicants who wish to apply and/or develop modern technologies (e.g. in automated tracking, virtual reality, GPS, drone-based imaging, machine learning, neurobiology, genetics, computational modelling) to understand how animals sense their world and make decisions in the face of uncertainty and risk.

Given the broad nature of this search it will be extremely helpful if applicants can clearly state what excites them about collective animal behaviour, and what they may want to work on. Our positions are fully funded for 4 years to allow students time to develop their own ideas and to follow ambitious and creative research directions.

PhD in Collective behaviours and social structure in animal populations
Farine Lab

How do collective behaviours and social structure emerge in animal populations? Seemingly simple mechanisms can often be amplified to produce remarkable group-level behaviours or population-level patterns. For example, highly cohesive collective movement patterns can emerge when animals respond to the movement cues of nearby neighbours. Similarly, groups of animals can solve complex problems, such as sensing their environment or finding cryptic new food sources, by eavesdropping on information being generated by nearby individuals. While natural selection acts on the behavioural phenotypes of (often selfish) individuals, collective behaviours are a group-level, or sometimes population-level, property that themselves can shape selection, and therefore form part of a complex evolutionary process. To understand how collective behaviours evolve or social structure emerges, one must understand (1) the mapping between individual phenotypes and collective behaviour, (2) the link between collective behaviour, the environment (both social and physical), and individual fitness, and (3) how selection arising from ecological or social conditions drives the expression of the phenotypes that are linked with collective behaviour or particular decisions that lead to consistent social structure.

We are seeking one or more PhD students to join an exciting new group investigating the ecology and evolution of social and collective animal behaviour. The student(s) will have the opportunity to conduct pioneering studies on both new and well-established study systems, with a major focus on conducting observational and experimental studies in the wild. Our current projects include whole-group high-resolution GPS tracking, experimental manipulation of social networks, and simultaneous tracking of predators and prey. Our strength is to integrate technology and novel analytical techniques in studies of wild animal groups, with a particular focus on birds. Applicants are invited to contact Dr. Damien Farine to discuss potential project ideas or research topics to work on. We seek highly motivated students, particularly those with an empirical background, a broad interest in social behaviour, and who wish to work with animals in the wild. Quantitative skills are not a prerequisite for consideration, but positive attitude towards doing great science is!

PhD in The mechanisms and evolution of social influence
Jordan Lab

The production, perception, and cognitive processing of social cues can have far reaching effects on the social structure and behaviour of individuals within animal groups. Studying how the nature, frequency, and fine-scale detail of these interactions leads to emergent properties at the level of the collective is essential for understanding social and collective behaviour generally.

An aspect of social interaction that is commonly overlooked in studies of collective systems is that interacting nodes within social networks are not of equal status – a hierarchy exists that affects the nature and frequency of interactions among individuals, and ultimately the influence an individual will have in its social network. This hierarchy may be based on size, sex, familiarity, or reputation, and has the potential to influence numerous aspects of sociality and collective behaviour.

In this project, we seek to understand how relationships among group members can mediate the flow of information within natural groups of either Lake Tanganyikan cichlid fish or colonial spiders in Central America. We aim to characterise social influence at numerous levels – from behavioural interactions in the lab to studies of massive populations in the field, examining the neurobiological basis of social influence and socio-cognitive abilities that facilitate social interactions.

We seek students who wish to employ multidisciplinary approaches to explore their own research questions around this central theme. In our department, students have access to cutting edge digital tracking of animal behaviour and leading molecular techniques, which can be combined with in-depth lab and field experiments examining the adaptive significance and mechanisms of social influence.

Iain D. Couzin

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