NIOZ

2 PhD Students "Integrating short-term causes and long-term consequences of adaptations to environmental change"

The Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES) of the University of Groningen and the department of Coastal Systems (COS) of the Royal NIOZ are looking for two excellent, highly motivated PhD students with a keen interest in evolutionary biology, behavioural ecology, and/or animal personalities. You will help create an integrative perspective on the adaptive capacity of organisms to environmental change.

2017-10-02 11:06:28
LOCATION:            UNIVERSITY OF GRONINGEN & ROYAL NIOZ (THE NETHERLANDS) 
VACANCY ID:         2017-080
CLOSING DATE:    NOVEMBER 5th, 2017

  

THE RESEARCH

In an era of rapid climatic and ecological change, there is a pressing need to understand whether and how organisms can adapt. There are two ways in which organisms can adapt to environmental change: (1) via short-term physiological and behavioural responses of individuals, and (2) via long-term evolutionary responses of populations. These proximate and ultimate aspects of adaptation are closely intertwined, but they are often studied separately.

Preliminary studies suggest that a unifying framework can lead to a better understanding of the structure and individual variation of behaviour (animal personalities) and that it may explain hitherto puzzling findings, such as the unexpectedly rapid flyway evolution of a subspecies of Red Knots.

In our research, we strive for an integrative perspective by combining theoretical modelling with field observations and controlled experiments on Red Knots (a shorebird). Red Knots foraging on marine bivalves are an ideal model system for studying both the development of short-term individual adaptations and their fitness consequences in a relevant field setting.

A powerful combination of lab and field work allows us to monitor individual responses to the local environment and to test hypotheses on whether individual differences in these responses reflect a genetically fixed strategy, developmental, plasticity, or a more flexible form of reversibel phenotypic plasticity.

 

THE PROJECT

The project will elaborate on, and empirically test, a recently developed unifying framework for understanding the adaptive capacity of organisms. In this framework, the physiological and behavioural mechanisms underlying short-term individual responses are viewed as the product of adaptive evolution. This allows predictions on how these mechanisms reflect the time scale, spatial scale, and predictability of environmental change.

Conversely, individual response mechanisms are viewed as the substrate of adaptive evolution. This allows predictions on how the speed, trajectory and outcome of adaptive evolution reflect the underlying mechanisms.

In the project, two PhD candidates will closely collaborate. Their aim is to achieve a sound understanding of the structure and development of Red Knot exploration and foraging strategies, and the implications of these strategies for the adaptive capacity of individuals and populations to deal with rapid environmental change.

THE CANDIDATES

PHD STUDENT ROYAL NIOZ (LAB AND FIELD WORK)

In the empirical part of the project at the Royal NIOZ headquarters on Texel we aim to investigate to what extent and by which cues individual differences in behavioural tendencies originate early in development, and what their consequences are for the life history, social behaviour and spatial distribution of Red Knots in the field.

As our PhD, you will answer several research questions, focusing on behavioural strategies. You will be testing theoretical predictions in the field. You will be based at the department of Coastal Systems (COS), where controlled experiments in the Experimental Shorebird Facility can be combined with the latest technology for tracking Red Knots in the field.

Competences? We are looking for a PhD candidate with an MSc in Biology and a keen interest in behavioural ecology. Preferably, this candidate has strong analytical skills and experience with designing experiments and/or field work. Good English oral and written skills are required.

Since you will closely collaborate with the PhD in Groningen and become part of a multidisciplinary team, broad interests, a cooperative mindset, good communication abilities, and flexibility are also essential.

You will be supervised by dr. Allert Bijleveld and prof. dr. Theunis Piersma from the Royal NIOZ, and prof. dr. Ton Groothuis and prof. dr. Franjo Weissing from the University of Groningen.

You will obtain your doctorate at the University of Groningen with prof. dr. Theunis Piersma as the promotor.

PHD STUDENT GELIFES, UNIVERSITY OF GRONINGEN (MODELLING)

In the theoretical element of the project, at the Theoretical Research in Evolutionary Life Sciences group (prof. dr. Franz Weissing) of the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), we aim to investigate how environmental conditions determine the evolution of individual response strategies and to derive testable predictions on how these strategies affect the short- and long-term capacity of Red Knots to cope with various types of environmental change. In this part of the research important questions will focus on the development and analysis of theoretical models that are tailored to the biology of Red Knots.

The PhD candidate in Groningen will work at the Theoretical Research in Evolutionary Life Sciences group (prof. dr. Franjo Weissing) of the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES). You will combine analytical approaches (Adaptive Dynamics, Quantitative Genetics, Life-History Theory) with conducting individual-based evolutionary simulations.

For the research project in Groningen we are looking for a motivated candidate with an MSc in Biology or an MSc in a field related to mathematics and the computer sciences. The perfect candidate has a strong, multidisciplinary interest in evolutionary theory. We have a preference for candidates that have experience with computer simulations and/or the analysis of theoretical models.

In order to be successful in this position, good English oral and written skills are a requirement. You will closely collaborate with the PhD on Texel and be part of a multidisciplinary team. Broad interests, flexibility, and good communication abilities are crucial.

You will be supervised by dr. Allert Bijleveld and prof. dr. Theunis Piersma from the Royal NIOZ, and prof. dr. Ton Groothuis and prof. dr. Franjo Weissing from the University of Groningen.

You will obtain your doctorate at the University of Groningen with prof. dr. Franjo Weissing as your promotor.

Like to learn more about the research at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, please follow this link.

CONDITIONS

PHD STUDENT ROYAL NIOZ (LAB AND FIELD WORK)

We are offering a 4-year fulltime position with a pension scheme, a yearly 8% vacation allowance, a year-end bonus and flexible employment conditions. Working conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of Research Centres (WVOI). The position will be located on Texel. Cost of relocation and help with housing is provided by the Royal NIOZ.

To apply for the PhD position at the Royal NIOZ, please use the application form at the bottom of the page.

PHD STUDENT GELIFES, UNIVERSITY OF GRONINGEN (MODELLING)

The University of Groningen offers you a fulltime scholarship position for 4 years. As our PhD student, you will develop your own research proposal and do curiosity-driven research that allows you to work at the boundaries of knowledge!

You will participate in the Faculty’s Graduate School of Science training programme for PhD students. A Career Perspectives curriculum is part of the training, which aims to prepare students for their (academic or non-academic) careers after the PhD trajectory. Check this link for more information on the PhD-training programme and scholarship. 

To apply for the PhD position at GELIFES please use the PhD Scholarships webpage of the University of Groningen.

MORE INFORMATION:

For additional information about these vacancies, please contact dr. Allert Bijleveld, prof. dr. Ton Groothuis , prof. dr. Theunis Piersma or prof. dr. Franjo Weissing.

For additional information about the procedure for the PHD STUDENT ROYAL NIOZ (LAB AND FIELD WORK) please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (senior HR advisor).

For additional information about the procedure for the PHD STUDENT GELIFES, UNIVERSITY OF GRONINGEN (MODELLING) please contact dr. Corine Eising.  

Applications for both positions should include an updated CV, including transcripts of marks for exams and research projects and master degree, a letter of motivation, and suggestions for at least two academic referees.

Please note: job interviews will take place on November 20 and November 21st, 2017. You are welcome to apply for both positions.



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