Reproductive behaviours in a risky world: are mothers trading-off offspring safety for future fitness?
Individuals do not only have to eat without been eaten, they also have to balance the risk of mortality with their investment into reproduction. Here we study trade-offs between reproductive and anti-predatory behaviours. Rodents are a suitable study system: they are highly depredated, have flexible mating system (i.e. can mate singly or multiply), and can potentially simultaneously invest into nestling litters (current investment) and pregnancy (future investment). This produces a conflict between caring for the current offspring, and leaving the offspring temporally behind for mating in order to be able to invest into future offspring. It further allows to separate the effects of predation risk on different stages in the life cycle on the trade-off between current reproductive investment (nest guarding) and future reproductive investment (mating behaviour). In our experiments individual variation in time allocation, physiological responses, space use and mating success will be monitored allowing quantifying both behavioural and fitness consequences. Experiments will be conducted in different spatial and temporal scales: behavioural observations in the laboratory and automated telemetry observations in semi-natural enclosures. Results of the experiments will give novel estimates of the general flexibility of reproductive behaviour and for the first time measure life-history trade-offs of reproduction and mortality risk for individuals in semi-natural settings.
How to apply:
Your application should include a cover letter, transcript of master degree, C.V. (including, if applicable, your research experience, conference attendance, publication list), contact information of the referees of your master thesis - please combine to ONE pdf not larger than 4MB) and send to firstname.lastname@example.org not later than the 15th of November 2015. The candidate can start Jan. 2016.