[MARMAM] PhD opportunity - seal behaviour

s.d.twiss at durham.ac.uk s.d.twiss at durham.ac.uk
Thu Jan 22 06:37:04 PST 2009

Dear Marmamers,

We wish to announce the following PhD studentship opportunity.

PROJECT TITLE: The ontogeny of personality in grey seals (Halichoerus grypus).

SUPERVISORS:	Dr. Sean Twiss (Durham University)
                Dr. Patrick Pomeroy (SMRU, University of St. Andrews)

FUNDING: This project is in competition for funding from various sources (UK 
research councils, Durham Doctoral Fellowships, charitable trusts). Success 
will depend on the quality of applications received, relative to those for 
competing projects. 

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 15th of February 2009

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: see below, or via the following link:

PROJECT BACKGROUND: It is now widely recognised that non-human animals have 
personalities, defined as individual behavioural differences that are 
consistent over time and/or across contexts. Recent studies have demonstrated 
the existence of personalities in a remarkably broad range of taxa from mammals 
to molluscs. Such personality traits have been shown to be heritable and 
therefore subject to selection, with potentially significant impacts on 
individual fitness. However, as yet the vast majority of studies of personality 
in non-human species have been restricted to laboratory studies, and there have 
been many recent calls for research that examines the ecological relevance of 
personality in natural systems. 
   This studentship will capitalise upon an existing long term study of 
individual variation in behaviour and reproductive performance in the grey seal 
to ask if maternal and offspring (pup) behavioural types (personalities) are 
correlated, and to examine the role of early personality type on social 
relationships in weaned pups. The main objectives of this studentship will be: 
(1) To test for correlations between maternal and offspring indices of 
behavioural type. (2) To test whether offspring behavioural type is predicted 
by maternal behavioural type or maternal and/or pup state (body condition) and 
whether this differs for male and female pups. (3) To examine ontogenetic 
changes in pup behavioural types during lactation and beyond weaning. (4) To 
examine the impact of behavioural type on the social behaviour of male and 
female weaned pups within the breeding colony.
    The project will involve extensive field based behavioural observations of 
individually identified grey seals at breeding colonies around the UK combined 
with novel in-field quantitative experimental tests of individual personality. 
Candidates will require the ability to conduct prolonged field work in isolated 
and harsh conditions as part of a small field research team.  Candidates should 
demonstrate a capability for planning and implementing structured field 
observations and behavioural experiments. An understanding and appreciation of 
behavioural and evolutionary ecology is essential, and experience in 
multivariate statistics is desirable.

TRAINING: The student will gain extensive training in field behavioural 
observation, compilation and maintenance of photo-ID database, spatial data 
manipulation and analyses within a GIS, statistical analyses (including 
quantifying ‘personality’ and social associations), organisation of fieldwork 
logistics and safety in remote, isolated locations. The student will present 
work at national and international conferences.

To take advantage of all funding possibilities, applications must be received 
by (or on) the 15th of February. 

All applications for postgraduate study must be made online via the Graduate 
School at http://www.dur.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/.  

In addition, a full CV and covering letter (detailing your reasons for applying 
for the project) should be emailed to Dr Sean Twiss at s.d.twiss at durham.ac.uk

If you have any further questions about the School, the University or the 
application process you should, in the first instance, contact Ashley Graven, 
Research Administrator in the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.
Email: ashley.graven at durham.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)191 334 1200 
Ashley Graven
Research Administrator
School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Durham University
South Road
Durham DH1 3LE 

Information about the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences can be found 
on our website 

Information about the postgraduate community and the University as a whole can 
be found on the web pages 
http://www.dur.ac.uk/postgraduate/ and http://www.dur.ac.uk/about/. 

 Dr. Sean Twiss,
 Lecturer in Behavioural Ecology,
 Zoology Degree Route Coordinator,
 School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences,
 South Road,
 The University of Durham,
 Durham, DH1 3LE,

 E-mail: s.d.twiss at durham.ac.uk
 Web-site: http://www.dur.ac.uk/s.d.twiss/

 Tel: +44 (0)191 334 1350 (office)
 Tel: +44 (0)191 334 1247 (lab)
 Fax: +44 (0)191 334 1201

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