PhD para estudiar la morfometría de los cráneos de bisonte europeo y su relación con la endogamia de la especie ~

4 de agosto de 2023

PhD para estudiar la morfometría de los cráneos de bisonte europeo y su relación con la endogamia de la especie

Oferta compartida por Cristina

PhD position at the Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża for the project:

" Historical morphometrics of the European bison skulls and its association with species inbreeding increase”

The summary and objectives of the project:
European bison is a species of unique demographic history. It has been through an extremely
severe bottleneck in the 1920s. The whole contemporary population originates from a
meager group of founders. Just two of them turned out to be predominant, and their share
in the contemporary gene pool is above 80%. The effects are extremely low genetic variation
(Wójcik et al., 2009; Tokarska et al., 2009; Tokarska et al., 2011) and highly increased
inbreeding level, reaching 75% (Pertoldi et al., unpublished). Although increased inbreeding
is regarded as an important factor affecting the viability of a population, resulting in lowered
genetic differentiation and decreased fitness, its impact on the European bison seems milder
than might be expected. Long term fertility coefficients are stable and satisfactory (Krasińska
i Krasiński, 2017) and no indisputable inbreeding depression symptoms are observed
(Tokarska et al., 2011). The reported potential inbreeding depression symptoms are related
to skeleton conformation. Baranov et al. (1997) reported signs of developmental instability
of skull morphology in the European bison skulls and indicated developmental instability as
essential for characterizing the condition of the population. Analyses of fluctuating
symmetry of the European bison, associated with genetic diversity (Makowiecka, 1994)
suggest that the Białowieża line of the European bison had the lowest, unbeneficial,
developmental instability as the result of inbreeding. Until recently, the only method of
estimating inbreeding level was pedigree analysis – a rough and inaccurate method. The
development of genomic techniques enables precise calculation of inbreeding level using
high density SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) set. This method has been successfully
used in the European bison studies and allowed for the first, accurate inbreeding
calculations, using ROH (Runs of Homozygosity) analyses (Iacolina et al., 2016, Pertoldi et al., unpublished) This project enables the actual effect of extreme inbreeding on skull conformation in a historical context to be estimated, by association of genomic and morphometric data in one of the most inbred mammals known – the European bison. We will use hundreds of 3D skull scans from European collections and museums and juxtaposition them with their inbreeding level information based on SNP markers. The objective of the project is to specify whether and in what extent inbreeding level shaped the skull conformation of European bison individuals by answering three questions: Has the morphometry of the skull fluctuated over time? Has the growing inbreeding of the European bison influenced its skull morphometry? If yes, what morphometric skull features have been affected by growing inbreeding?

The working environment

Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences (MRIPAS) in Białowieża, funded in 1952, conducts research in the field of ecology, ethology, morphology, population genetics as well as population management and conservation of mammals and other terrestrial vertebrates. The mission of the Institute is to acquire, advance, and disseminate knowledge of natural patterns and processes in order to improve the scientific basis for effective nature conservation activities and sustainable development. We focus mainly on Białowieża Primeval Forest (UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site) as a study area, but also on other regions of Poland and Europe. The Institute employs 60 people, including researchers, PhD students, and qualified technical and office staff.

We provide:
1. Work in a friendly research team, in a well-equipped and organized laboratory with
support and supervision of competent colleagues;
2. The possibility of effective scientific development through cooperation with the best
world research centres;
3. Participation in an interesting scientific project with travelling opportunities;
4. The possibility to apply for inexpensive accommodation in MRI PAS flats.
PhD student tasks and duties within the project
1. Performing morphometrical measurements on modern and historical European bison
2. Performing morphometrical analyzes.
3. Presenting results and preparing drafts of scientific articles.
1. MSc degree in biology,
2. Experience in morphometric research, knowledge of Landmark, Checkpoint or other
3. Team cooperation skills,
4. Fluent spoken and written English,
5. Fun and excitement from performing science and presenting the results heartly

Required documents:
Recruitment process of the BioPlanet Doctoral School is joined with the recruitment of doctoral
applicants to a project funded by external institutions (National Science Centre, The National
Centre for Research and Development, Foundation for Polish Science, etc.), the beneficiary of
which is one of the institutes forming the Doctoral School.
1. Application for admission to the BIOPLANET Doctoral School along with consent for
the personal data to be processed for the purpose of recruitment, and declaration of
acceptance of the terms and conditions of admission (application form).
2. Certified copy of diploma or certificate of completion of studies. If the applicant does
not have proof of the qualifications, s/he is obliged to provide them before the
Doctoral School program begins.
3. CV including education, employment and research experience with a list of
publications and a short description of scientific achievements, particularly
information on participation in scientific conferences, workshops, training and
internships, participation in research projects, involvement in learned societies and
students’ scientific associations, and awarded distinctions and scholarships.
4. Certificates or other documents confirming knowledge of English, if the applicant has
them at his/her disposal.
5. An opinion on the applicant and their past scientific activity from an academic staff
member or a university teacher with at least a doctoral degree. Instead of providing
such a document, a person who is an academic staff member or a university teacher
and holds at least a doctoral degree can be designated from whom the Recruitment
Committee can obtain their opinion on the applicant independently.
6. Declaration of consent for processing of personal data, attached below (only first
signed page should be scanned and delivered through e-mail).

Conditions of employment:
PhD student scholarship of 4180.00 PLN / month netto. This is the highest allowed salary for
PhD in the NCN project. As living in Poland is cheaper that in Western Europe, this ensures
quite satisfactory standard of living.
Project will last 4 years, starting summer 2023 and finish summer 2027. The PhD studies
start in October thus the candidate is optimally supposed to be in Białowieża at that time.
The recruitment rules will follow NCN regulations. The selection will be based on the
qualifications of the candidates including scientific achievements, experience, awards,
internships, skills and competences. An interview will be part of the selection of candidates.
Recruitment is a two-stage process and includes: 1) evaluation of candidates’ documentation
and 2) an interview with selected candidates.

Applications should be sent directly to Małgorzata Tokarska by letter or electronically by
16th August 2023. The selected candidates will be invited to an online or stationary
interview and the decision will be announced by 18th September 2023.

Małgorzata Tokarska PhD – project leader
Mammal Research Institute Polish Academy of Sciences
ul. Stoczek 1,
17-230 Białowieża, Poland
e-mail:; phone +48 85 682-77-61

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