PhD opportunity - The function of female ornamentation in lovely fairy-wrens (Australia) ~

4 de febrero de 2014

PhD opportunity - The function of female ornamentation in lovely fairy-wrens (Australia)

An exciting PhD opportunity is available to investigate the function of elaborate female song and plumage in a cooperatively breeding bird, the lovely fairy-wren (Malurus amabilis). The student will be based in the Evolution and Behaviour Group in the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne and supervised by A/Prof Raoul Mulder and Dr Michelle Hall, with fieldwork carried out in Cairns in north-eastern Australia.
Darwin's theory of sexual selection has been remarkably successful in explaining how elaborate signals evolved in male animals, but whether similar processes drive the evolution of female signals remains controversial. This project will test competing hypotheses for the evolution of sexual differences by investigating selection on male and female plumage and song ornaments in the lovely fairy-wren.  In contrast to most of the other species in this iconic genus, female lovely fairy-wrens have brilliantly colourful plumage, but they have never previously been systematically studied.
The student will work on a recently-established colour-banded population of lovely fairy-wrens in Cairns Australia, combining observational data with field, experimental, molecular and comparative approaches to improve our understanding of female ornamentation in the Maluridae and birds more generally.
Applicants will need to have an extremely competitive academic record and obtain an Australian Postgraduate Award or International Research and Fee Remission Scholarships (for details and scholarship application forms see The main application deadlines for these scholarships are 31 August (International) and 31 October (Domestic).
Interested students with excellent grades that are competitive for a scholarship (average score of >80%) are invited to email their CV, details of two academic referees, academic transcript, and a letter describing their research interests to Raoul Mulder ( and Michelle Hall (

Dr Michelle L Hall
Research Fellow
Department of Zoology
University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Vic, 3010

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