Postdoc investigando riesgo de extinción en aves combinando análisis de ADN histórico y muestras actuales. ~

30 de noviembre de 2020

Postdoc investigando riesgo de extinción en aves combinando análisis de ADN histórico y muestras actuales.

Oferta compartida por Nuria

A postdoc position is available to work on historical DNA from bird sub-fossils, museum skin specimens and fresh samples to develop a novel real-time assessment of genetic response to anthropogenic environmental change across multiple bird species following first human arrival in a pristine environment. The time series is designed to examine the long-term processes leading to variation in extinction risk between closely related species, comparing differences in demographic and selective responses to common environmental changes.

The position is part of the project "Suscept-Ext: Understanding susceptibility to extinction using historical museum series as a genetic time series", funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR), that links competences of two research centres in France. In Toulouse, the UMR AMIS is among the leading laboratories worldwide in ancient DNA studies, and will be the postdoc's base for the historical DNA guidance and wet-lab work. In Paris, the French National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) houses important specimens for the study, and is also home to expertise in genome-wide demographic analyses and method development, as well as in links between extinction risk, evolutionary history, and the study set up.

The ANR project comes with funding for three years of postdoc salary, and some flexibility is possible in the recruit's time allocation between Toulouse and Paris over this period.

Evolutionary history is expected to play a major role in determining which species decline in population size to extinction in response to environmental change, but the processes by which this comes about are poorly understood. Although population genetic studies provide much promise to understand the microevolutionary processes behind macroevolutionary patterns of extinction risk, inferences can be limited by our confidence in the timescales inferred, and by the scale of such studies, which frequently include only one lineage. As a key-player in project ANR Suscept-Ext, the postdoc will tackle both of these issues, applying ancient DNA methods to museum (historical & subfossil) samples to obtain a genome-wide time series for multiple Mascarene island bird lineages that differ in abundance and other biological traits. Islands in the Mascarene archipelago (Mauritius & Réunion), Indian Ocean, are unusual among sizable and biologically diverse landmasses worldwide, in that they had no human population until European arrival 400 years ago. Therefore, there exist museum samples and subfossils spanning the full duration of anthropogenic environmental change, allowing a real-time assessment of genetic response to environmental changes of known timing and across multiple species following first human presence.

Major goals for the postdoc include:
  1. as a top priority, developing a working protocol and obtaining reliable genome-wide data from a variety of bird historical DNA samples, including museum skins (toe-pads), and sub-fossils up to 12,000 YBP from a variety of preservational environments including limestone and volcanic rock caves (essential), as well as attempting those of anoxic marshes;
  2. playing a key role in DNA extraction and interaction with external genomics companies in order to obtain both de novo reference genomes and re-sequenced genomes from fresh samples;
  3. analysing the resulting genetic time series (modern and historical genome-wide data of varying completeness) to track temporal changes in demography and selection since first human arrival in the Mascarenes ~ 400 generations ago.

Funding has also been obtained for a PhD student to work alongside the postdoc in data analysis, the ancient DNA lab and/or method development, beginning by Year 2 at the latest.

Candidates are expected to have proven experience in generating and analysing genome-wide ancient or historical DNA data, and should ideally:
  • have a strong interest in the broad theme of the study - understanding the role of evolutionary history in determining which species decline towards extinction in response to environmental change
  • be interested in relevant population genomic methods
  • show willingness, if needed, to play a key role in training a PhD student to help with the historical DNA wetlab work

The ANR project comes with funding for three years of postdoc salary, and some flexibility is possible in the recruit's time allocation between geographic locations over this period. At the outset, s/he will
need to perform wet lab work in Toulouse (AMIS, U. Toulouse), and is expected to base themselves in the Paris research centre (ISYEB, MNHN) in the latter phase of the project, interacting with the Paris-based team, especially concerning the study context and setup, data analyses and new methods. However, we realise that many candidates may prefer to be based for the majority of their time in one locality (such preferences can be discussed).

For informal enquiries please contact Ben Warren (

To apply, please submit your application to Ben Warren ( and Catherine Theves ( as a single pdf file containing: 
  1. a detailed CV with publication list, and the names and email addresses of three referees who can comment on your expertise;
  2. a short covering letter (1-2 pages) explaining why you are interested in applying for this position, and your specific qualifications for this project. We will acknowledge receipt.
Both women and men are encouraged to apply. Time taken out from a scientific career through pregnancy and child care should be noted in the CV, and will be taken into account at the selection stage.

Applications are due by December 13th 2020, after that the position will remain open until filled. Start date: April 1st 2021 (ANR start date) or soon after.

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