Chulada de doctorado en ecología del comportamiento con trabajo de campo en Madagascar ~

20 de septiembre de 2019

Chulada de doctorado en ecología del comportamiento con trabajo de campo en Madagascar

3 year PhD studentship available: Bielefeld University (Germany) and
University of Bath (UK).

With Prof Oliver Kruger, Dr Nayden Chakarov, Prof Joe Hoffman and Prof
Tamas Szekely.

Mating systems and parental behaviour are among the most diverse social
behaviours, and recent research suggests that the social environment
influences these behaviours. Small plovers (Charadrius spp.) exhibit
highly variable breeding systems, between and within species, making them
an ideal model system for studying the causes and consequences of sex
ratio variation. The objective of this studentship is to investigate these
fundamental issues by means of fieldwork in three plover populations in
Madagascar. The research builds on the results from previous successful
studentships working with these birds.

We seek a bright and highly motivated student with a keen interest in
evolutionary ecology and behavioural ecology. Willingness to carry out
fieldwork in a challenging tropical environment is essential for this
position. The student will search for nests, trap birds and collect
blood and other samples and record plover behaviour. In addition, they
will use molecular methods in the laboratory for sexing and the genetic
analysis of host-associated parasite communities. Previous experience
of avian field biology or any other field experience in the tropics is
very important, while experience of population genetic approaches and/or
parasitology would be beneficial.

Fieldwork will be in a remote and pristine location in SW
Madagascar. Facilities are extremely basic, the weather can be very harsh,
and a great deal of walking and cycling are required. Opportunities
for communication with the outside world are very limited. You must be
physically fit, hard-working and meticulous, and have a proven ability
to work independently. You must have a positive attitude and an ability
to look after yourself (i.e. cook your own meals, deal with logistics
and organise your own work over extended periods). Speaking French is
advantageous, but is not a requirement.

The overall aim of the project is to study the immuno-ecological causes
of sex ratio bias in three sympatric species of plovers with varying
mating systems at a single location in Madagascar. At which stage of the
life cycle and how do mortality differences between the sexes emerge,
and what are the demographic consequences of these differences? We
aim to experimentally manipulate parasite infections in plovers
but also to monitor populations closely to identify the proximate
causes of previously described adult sex ratio biases. In addition,
the student will test hypotheses relating to mating system evolution,
and develop demographic models to estimate key demographic properties
of natural populations. Experience of statistical modelling and/or
parasitological/immunological techniques is therefore advantageous and
more generally, strong quantitative skills are highly desirable.

Key references

Eberhart-Phillips, L. J., Küpper, C., Carmona-Isunza, M. C., Vincze,
O., Zefania, S., Cruz-Lopez, M., Kosztolanyi, A., Miller, T. E. X.,
Barta, Z., Cuthill, I. C., Burke, T., Szekely, T., Hoffman, J. I. &
Krüger, O. (2018) Demographic causes of adult sex ratio variation and
their consequences for parental cooperation. Nature Comm. 9: 1651.

Ancona, S., Denes, F. V., Krüger, O., Szekely, T. &
Beissinger, S. R. (2017) Estimating adult sex ratios in
nature. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 372: 20160313.

Eberhart-Phillips, L. J., Küpper, C., Miller, T. E. X., Cruz-Lopez, M.,
Maher, K., dos Remedios, N., Stoffel, M. A., Hoffman, J. I., Krüger,
O. & Szekely, T. (2017) Sex-specific early survival drives adult sex
ratio bias in snowy plovers and impacts mating system and population
growth. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 114: E5474-E5481.

The student will be based at the Department
of Animal Behaviour at Bielefeld University
( The
Department is the oldest of its kind in Germany and currently hosts
7 Principal Investigators, 7 Postdocs and 15 PhD students. It offers
a stimulating international environment and an excellent research
infrastructure with access to state-of-the-art methodologies. The
working language of the Department is English. The student will also
have the opportunity to spend some time at the University of Bath
( in the United
Kingdom. The project and the supervision will provide the student with an
integrative training and will prepare him/her very well for a scientific
career in behavioural ecology.

The studentship (E13/65%) is funded by the German Science Foundation
(DFG) and is available for 3 years. Additional funding is available
for fieldwork and for attending conferences. Please send your CV, the
name of 2 referees, and a concise statement of your research interests
as a single PDF file to: For further
information concerning this position, please contact Oliver Krüger
( or Tamás Székely (

Bielefeld University is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome
applications from severely handicapped people. We particularly welcome
applications from women. Given equal suitability, qualifications
and professional achievement, women will be given preference, unless
particular circumstances pertaining to a male applicant predominate.

The deadline for applications is 30.09.2019.

Interviews will be held soon thereafter and the position is available
as soon as possible.

Prof. Joseph Hoffman Department of Animal Behaviour University of
Bielefeld Postfach 100131 33501 Bielefeld Germany +49 (0)521 1062711

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