Males and females of many species are attracted by the symmetry of potential mates. In humans, symmetrical faces are found more attractive - in experiments that use natural faces and computer manipulated images. Symmetrical faces are also preferred in the rhesus monkey, but very little work has been done in non-human primates, although this could substantially illuminate the evolutionary history of attraction to symmetry in humans. This PhD will investigate the following questions in a wild population of olive baboons in Gashaka Gumti National Park Nigeria:
1. Do baboons find more symmetrical individuals more attractive as sexual partners (adult males and females) and social partners (all individuals)?
2. What features (e.g. rank, social attractiveness) of wild primates predict reproductive success (in males and females)?
3. Is ‘quality’ (measured by reproductive success, size, weight, parasite load) correlated with symmetry?
Applicants are expected to read the following articles, and if shortlisted for interviews, will be asked questions about these articles.
Higham et al (2009) Female reproductive signaling, and male mating behavior, in the olive baboon. Hormones & Behavior 55: 60-67
Little et al (2008) Symmetry Is Related to Sexual Dimorphism in Faces: Data Across Culture and Species. PLoS ONE 3: e2106.
To apply please complete the form ‘Initial application form for MPhil/PhD’ which can be downloaded from http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/graduateschool/prospectiveresearchstudents/howtoapply/index.html. You are also required to submit a full CV, a written statement of why you would like to undertake this PhD study at Roehampton and the skills that you can bring to the project.
For further information/informal enquiries, contact Dr Caroline Ross (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In addition to the general admission criteria of Roehampton University, the successful applicant is expected to have:
1. a BSc 2.1 or above in a relevant subject e.g. biological sciences, biological anthropology, evolutionary psychology. Students with a 2.2 may be considered if they have gained a Distinction at masters level.
2. ability to work under difficult field conditions
3. ability to work with a range of people from different cultural backgrounds
4. good statistical ability
1. previous fieldwork / tropical work experience
2. MSc/MRes in a relevant subject
The studentship consists of tuition fees (for home/EU students) as well as a stipend (currently £15,200 p.a.). Overseas students are welcome to apply, but if they are successful, they will have to pay the difference between home and overseas tuition fees.
Anticipated start date: Feb 2011
5th January 2011; interviews 18th or 19th January 2011
Please note: this is one of five projects to be advertised, with two studentships available. The shortlisted student for this project will compete with students from other projects for one of the two places available.
Dr Caroline Ross
London SW15 4JD
+44 208 3923529