[MARMAM] phd project available

Celine Frere cfrere at usc.edu.au
Wed Mar 26 13:08:09 PDT 2014

Dear All,

I have a phd project available in my lab. See description below. Please forward to anyone who you think may be interested.

Investigating the extent of social plasticity in female bottlenose dolphins: what can temporal and spatial social variation tell us about the ecological basis of mammalian sociality.

Primary supervisor: Dr Celine Frere, The University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

Secondary supervisor: Professor Janet Mann, Georgetown University, USA.

Despite a growing body of theoretical and empirical research on the evolution of mammalian social systems, the development of a unified theoretical framework remains a significant challenge. Most agree that variation in mammalian social systems can be attributed to four main factors: predation pressure (Dunbar 1988<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>; van Schaik and van Hooff 1983<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>); distributions of resources (e.g. food, water, nesting sites, mates) and levels of competition for them (Clutton-Brock and Harvey 1977<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>; Krebs and Davies 1993<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>); sexual selection (Clutton-Brock and Parker 1995<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>; Clutton-Brock 1989<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>; Smuts and Smuts 1993<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>; van Schaik and Janson 2000<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>; van Schaik, et al. 2004<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>); and inbreeding avoidance (Perrin and Mazalov 2000<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>). While it is widely accepted that these four factors interact with each other to influence patterns of mammalian group living within and between species (Aureli, et al. 2008<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>; Sueur, et al. 2011<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>), we still know very little about whether and how the selective pressures resulting from these four factors influence the spatial and temporal nature of social interactions.

To better understand the ecological basis of mammalian sociality, this PhD project will focus on the hypothesis that individuals within a population can ultimately use conspecifics to balance responses to the four main factors described above and thus increase their own fitness (Fr?re, et al. 2010<file:///C:/Users/Celine/Desktop/Shark%20Bay/2014/140325%20PHD%20project-Frere.docx>). This hypothesis will be investigated using the long-term behavioural and genetic dataset (>27 years) from the bottlenose dolphin population found in the eastern gulf of Shark Bay, Western Australia. Shark Bay dolphins do not live in stable groups, but have a dynamic fission-fusion society characterized by frequent changes in group composition (e.g., Mann et al. 2000, 2012). Underlying these fluid relationships are very strong bonds, but these too vary. This longitudinal dataset provides us with the unique opportunity to investigate the ways by which female bottlenose dolphins temporally and spatially adapt their social networks to maximize their own fitness.

The student will be based in the Genecolgy research centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Dr Celine Frere lab and will be co-supervised by Professor Janet Mann from Georgetown University. It is expected that the student will spend several months per year in  Shark Bay to conduct field work. Please visit monkeymiadolphins.org for more information on the long term study.

Applicants will need to have an extremely competitive academic record and obtain an Australian Postgraduate Award or International Research and Fee Remission Scholarships (for details and scholarship application forms http://www.usc.edu.au/research/research-students/hdr-scholarships). The main application deadlines for these scholarships are 11th of April (domestic only) and October (Domestic and International).

Interested students are invited to email their CV to Celine Frere (cfrere at usc.edu.au).



Celine Frere PhD

Research Fellow

GeneCology Research Centre

University of the Sunshine Coast

mobile: 0423312893


University of the Sunshine Coast, Locked Bag 4, Maroochydore DC, Queensland, 4558 Australia.
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