Voluntariado/Prácticas de investigación de comportamiento animal en Suiza ~ Bioblogia.net

25 de julio de 2019

Voluntariado/Prácticas de investigación de comportamiento animal en Suiza

Helping trade-off in a cooperative cichlid based on cost of help and enforcement

We are looking for a MSc-level intern to join our behavioural ecology team at the University
of Bern for a duration of 4-6 months. The starting date of the project is flexible, and there is
the option to begin in January 2020 to fit the requirements of a M2 internship.

Cooperative breeding refers to a social system in which individuals delay their own
reproduction and help conspecifics to raise their offspring (e.g. Clutton-Brock, 2002). By this
definition, helping behaviour has to be initially costly for the donor (helpers) but ultimately
enhance the fitness of both the donors and recipients (breeders). Some studies have
measured the cost of helping by measuring time-energy budgets or looking into long term
fitness effects (Heinsohn & Legge, 1999; Taborsky & Grantner, 1998; Wong & Balshine,
2011). However, few studies have manipulated the cost of help to observe how helpers
trade-off the increased cost of helping. We will use the cooperatively breeding cichlid
species Neolamprologus pulcher as model. We aim to manipulate the availability of oxygen
by providing CO2 in the water column, and assign them to different challenges to induce
helping behaviour, such as territorial defence and sand digging. We predict helpers will
compensate the increased cost of helping by a decrease in helping effort. We also aim to
assess whether this trade-off will be accepted by the breeders, or if the helper will get
punished after decreasing its effort. In the latter case, we expect the helping amount to be
consistent between the control and the treatment.

Clutton-Brock, T. (2002). Breeding together: kin selection and mutualism in cooperative
vertebrates. Science, 296(5565), 69-72.
Heinsohn, R., & Legge, S. (1999). The cost of helping. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 14(2),
Taborsky, M., & Grantner, A. (1998). Behavioural time–energy budgets of cooperatively
breeding Neolamprologus pulcher (Pisces: Cichlidae). Animal Behaviour, 56(6), 1375-1382.
Wong, M., & Balshine, S. (2011). The evolution of cooperative breeding in the African cichlid
fish, Neolamprologus pulcher. Biological Reviews, 86(2), 511-530.

Profile required
-Being a MSc-level graduate student in behavioural ecology or another relevant field.
-Having previous experience in performing animal behaviour experiments (previous
experience with fish behaviour would be a valuable addition).
-Knowledge of statistics and R software is desirable.
-Good English oral and written expression is compulsory (no German skills required).
-Being enthusiastic about the project, self-motivated, autonomous, and flexible with time.

Employment conditions
Supervision: close supervision will be provided by Irene García Ruiz and Lorenzo Arduini (PhD
students). The student will benefit in learning how to perform behavioural observations,
video analyses, statistical analyses and scientific writing. Formal supervision will be held by
Prof. Michael Taborsky (see website).

Salary: no wage can be provided to the intern. However, accommodation is provided on-site.

Working schedule: flexible and depending on the stage of the project. We count on the
intern’s autonomy on this regard.

Vacation: depending on the actual duration of the project, the possibility of holidays shall be
discussed and, if any, arranged in such a way that there is no interference with the execution
of the project.

The project will take place at the University of Bern, at the beautiful Ethologische Station
Hasli (Wohlenstrasse 50A, 3032 Hinterkappelen (BE), Switzerland). Located between the
Eymatt forest and the Aare, our facilities are just a few minutes away from Bern by car, bus
or biking.

Interested applicants should send a CV along with a cover letter describing their research
interests at lorenzo.arduini@iee.unibe.ch and irene.garcia@iee.unibe.ch. Please make sure
you send your application to both addresses. The same contact details stand for any request
of information.

Applications will be received until August 15th. A short Skype meeting will be arranged with
relevant candidates during that period or shortly after. The final decision shall be made by
the end of August.

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