[MARMAM] PhD opportunity: song and sexual selection in humpback whales

Ellen Garland ecg5 at st-andrews.ac.uk
Wed Oct 11 01:46:25 PDT 2017

We are seeking to recruit a PhD student for the following project:
The relationship between song characteristics and reproductive success in humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae): does song fulfill an intersexual function?
Male humpback whales sing a long and complex vocal display. Thousands of males can rapidly and synchronously change their population-specific song to a new version in as little as two months, a feat which is unparalleled in any other animal except humans. Despite our advances in understanding the cultural aspects of song, the underlying function(s) of humpback whale song are still debated. Using acoustic and genetic data, this PhD project seeks to understand the relationship between song characteristics and reproductive success to assess the contribution of inter-sexual drivers on the function of humpback whale song.

The student will be based at the University of St Andrews under the supervision of Dr Ellen Garland, and co-supervised by Dr Luke Rendell (St Andrews), and Dr Emma Carroll (St Andrews), in collaboration with Dr Claire Garrigue (IRD UMR ENTROPIE), and Assoc. Prof. Mike Noad (University of Queensland). Candidates should have a strong background in behavioural ecology or evolutionary biology. Knowledge or experience in bioacoustics or laboratory genetic analysis is essential, and experience of both desirable. Given the broad nature of the project and the expectation that the candidate will undertake both the acoustic analysis and genotyping of samples, training in molecular or acoustic techniques will be tailored to the candidate’s experience. The student will be expected to participate in annual fieldwork lasting two to three months in semi-remote locations. Previous field experience involving small boats, marine mammals, and remote locations would be advantageous. The candidate should have strong communication (oral and written) and interpersonal skills given the collaborative nature of the project and extended fieldwork. The ability to speak French would also be desirable (but not essential).

General requirements include a background in evolutionary and behavioural biology, and a BSc (Hons) or MSc degree (first class) in a relevant discipline. This 3.5-year School of Biology studentship (stipend and fees) will be provided at UK/EU citizen rates. International students may apply but will be responsible for the difference in fees; a fee waiver scholarship may be available for outstanding candidates. Enquiries from Chinese nationals are particularly welcomed as the University of St Andrews has additional funding opportunities for Chinese students.

For more information see: https://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=89429&LID=1443 or https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/research/phd-study/phd-study-projects/phd-study-cbd-projects/. Applications close on 3 December 2017.

Please send any enquiries to Dr Ellen Garland at ecg5 at st-andrews.ac.uk<mailto:ecg5 at st-andrews.ac.ukn> with the subject line: PhD studentship - paternity.

Kind regards,
Ellen C. Garland, Ph.D.
University Research Fellow

Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU)
Centre for Social Learning & Cognitive Evolution (SLaCE)
Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD)

Postal Address:
Sir Harold Mitchell Building
School of Biology
University of St. Andrews
St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9TH, UK

Ph: +44 (0)7478-649964
Email: ecg5 at st-andrews.ac.uk<mailto:ecg5 at st-andrews.ac.uk>
SLaCE: https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/solace/
Twitter: @_SMRU_
The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland: No SC013532

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