lundi 16 mars 2015

Funded PhD position - Social resilience in macaques: investigating demonstrated reactive scope

Supervisors: Professor Ann MacLarnon and Professor Stuart Semple (University of Roehampton, London)

Project description 
Making use of non-invasive means of assessing animals’ physiological stress response, a number of studies in recent years have investigated the social and ecological circumstances under which primates and other mammalian species experience more or less stress, as reflected in the relative strength of the stress response (e.g. Brent et al. 2011). Recently a means of comparing the results of such studies, and placing them in a more adaptive, broader evolutionary context, has been proposed, namely using the concept of demonstrated reactive scope (MacLarnon et al. 2014). The usefulness of the approach was illustrated with an ecological example. The current project will examine the same concept, focusing on social stressors; investigating the effectiveness of potential strategies for dealing with these stressors, such as social buffering, social integration (assessed using social network measures) and coping behaviours. It will examine the variation in demonstrated reactive scope of individuals in different social circumstances, at different life-history stages.

The project will involve (1) fieldwork with free-ranging macaques, involving collection of behavioural data and faecal samples for hormone analysis, and (2) laboratory based analysis of stress - and potentially other - hormones. It is planned that fieldwork will take place with Barbary macaques in Ifrane National Park, Morocco (subject to research permit approval). Laboratory work will take place in our hormone laboratory at the University of Roehampton. Students on university research studentships are required to provide up to 6 hours teaching or other assistance per week. For this studentship, a substantial proportion of this assistance will involve supporting research data management and associated work of the hormone laboratory.

Brent, L.J.N., Semple, S., Dubuc, C., Heistermann, M. & MacLarnon, A.M. (2011) Social capital and physiological stress levels in free-ranging adult female rhesus macaques. Physiology & Behavior. 102: 76-83. 
MacLarnon, A.M., Sommer, V., Goffe, A.S., Higham, J.P., Lodge, E., Tkaczynski, P., Ross, C. (2014) Assessing adaptability and reactive scope: a new measure and a case study of environmental stress in forest-living baboons. General & Comparative Endocrinology. DOI: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2014.09.022

Enquiries to Professor Ann MacLarnon (

Funding is available for UK/EU and International students at Home/EU rates (tuition fees of £4,052 and stipend at £16,057 for 2015/16) for three years full-time study (or part time equivalent for five years); International students will only be covered to Home/EU fee rates, and will be expected to pay the difference between Home/EU and International tuition fee rates. Current levels can be found on the University’s Finance Pages (

How to Apply
Deadline for applications: midnight 5 May 2015
Applicants must have completed a masters level qualification (MSc/MRes). Prospective applicants are advised to contact Professor Ann MacLarnon ( to discuss their application informally before submission. Students should then complete a VC Studentships Application Form, in consultation with the Notes of Guidance (both available here: 

Applications must be submitted by email to along with:
a. Copies of your university transcripts
b. Copies of professional qualification certificates (if relevant)
c. Test results to demonstrate your proficiency in English (if required)

Applicants must also arrange for references from academic referees to be sent directly to the above email address by the application deadline (5 May 2015). Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview by the end of May. Final results will be available at the end of June 2015.

Centre for Research in Evolutionary & Environmental Anthropology (CREEA)  
The student will be based in the Centre for Research in Evolutionary & Environmental Anthropology (CREEA). This is an interdisciplinary anthropology research group of staff and research students engaged in cutting-edge research on extant and past primates and humans, ecological and social questions, evolutionary and environmental issues. The majority of our research is consistently assessed to be world-leading or internationally excellent, including in the most recent UK research assessment exercise, REF 2014. CREEA provides a strongly nurturing and engaging culture for research students. Staff and student research is focused around related themes, producing a highly integrated and intellectually supportive environment. Since our foundation, more than 10 years ago, our PhD graduates have been extremely successful in gaining post-doctoral funding and academic positions both within the UK and internationally. Based in the Department of Life Sciences, our research is very well resourced in terms of laboratory and field facilities, including a specialist hormone laboratory for non-invasive analyses, and high quality field equipment, supported by our expert technical team. All full-time research students in the Department are provided with a PC, office space and general office facilities. Further information on CREEA and the department can be found at