21 February 2012

PhD position in Behavioural Ecology


Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Switzerland

'GENETIC BASIS OF COOPERATION': The aim of this PhD-project is to investigate the genetic basis of cooperative behaviour in highly social African cichlids. These fish breed cooperatively in large family groups and have turned into a model species for studies of social evolution based on detailed information about their ecology and behaviour, excellent possibilities for behavioural experiments and recent sequencing of their full genome. We shall pursue a multidisciplinary approach to study the genetic control of cooperative behaviour. This involves behavioural experiments with offspring obtained from a large-scale breeding experiment, analysis of the behavioural data using quantitative genetics tools and identifying candidate genes responsible for variation in cooperative behaviour by an ecological genomics approach. Eligible candidates will have a master’s degree (or Diplom) in Biology and research experience in animal behaviour and a genuine understanding of evolutionary theory. Practical skills in molecular genetics techniques, the application of statistical models and empirical work with fish would be beneficial, but they are not a precondition. The project will be mostly based in Bern, but will involve collaboration with two co-supervisors, Nadia Aubin-Horth (University Laval, Canada) and Mathias Kölliker (University of Basel, Switzerland). The position is part of the Doctoral Research Program ("ProDoc") funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation SNF on “Proximate and ultimate causes of cooperation” and will connect up to 30 PhD students working on animal cooperation by a research network. Supervisor: Barbara Taborsky.

The position is for three years and should preferably start in spring 2012.

The successful candidate will join a bustling research environment consisting of ca. 15 PhD-students and advanced research staff, five technicians and a varying number of master’s students and guest scientists. Besides this Behavioural Ecology group, the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Bern comprises research groups in Aquatic Ecology (Ole Seehausen), Community Ecology (Wolfgang Nentwig), Conservation Biology (Raphael Arlettaz), Evolutionary Ecology (Heinz Richner) and Population Genetics (Laurent Excoffier). Salaries will follow the schemes of the national funding organization of Switzerland.

Closing date: Open until filled, but all application materials, including CV, a summary of research experience, copies of any published or in-press papers, and two letters of recommendation should be received by 15 March 2012 to ensure full consideration. Candidates should indicate in a cover letter when they could take up the position. Please send all application material to the secretary’s office, c/o Marlis Gerteis, Dept. Behavioural Ecology, University of Bern, Wohlenstrasse 50A, CH-3032 Bern, Switzerland; or as e-mail attachments to marlis.gerteis@iee.unibe.ch. Please consult our web-page for information on our research: http://behav.zoology.unibe.ch/ For inquiries please contact barbara.taborsky@iee.unibe.ch

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