Ref. nr. SU FV-2501-16 Deadline for application: October 1, 2016.
The aim of this project is to disentangle the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that can explain variation in how individuals respond to and learn to associate with different stimuli in their environment. This variation in behavioral responses leads to variation in how the individuals interact with their environment, and will ultimately have significant intra- and interspecific evolutionary consequences (e.g. in signal evolution, mate choice and prey defenses). We aim for a mainly experimental approach, studying preferences, learning and discrimination behavior and generalization behavior in subjects that vary in cognitive ability, experience, and/or rearing conditions. The main subject species for the project will be the guppy (Poecilia reticulata). We already have existing selection lines of large- and small-brained guppies, with associated differences in cognitive ability. These lines provide a unique opportunity to study effects of intrinsic cognitive ability on learning behavior. The majority of the project will be undertaken in the brand new tropical freshwater fish labs in the Department of Zoology with room for over 6,000 aquaria and several separate experiment rooms. However, depending on the preferences of the recruited PhD student and the development of the project, there are possibilities to extend the scope of the project. For instance, we have substantial experience in studying learning and cognition in birds (wild-caught blue and great tits and domestic chickens) and comparative analyses across cartilaginous fish is another possible route. Generally, the project will mostly be lab-oriented and involve quite time consuming experimental work. At the same time, the position will provide excellent opportunities for personal initiatives and development towards a successful academic career.
To be qualified for research studies in the program, the applicant must have completed a Master degree (or equivalent) or have passed at least 120 hp (2 years) of biological studies, including an approved independent project of at least 30 hp at advanced level within Ethology, Zoology, Behavioral Ecology, Evolutionary Biology or a related subject. Applicants who have in principle acquired the corresponding competence in Sweden or in another country are also qualified.
For more information, please contact Dr Gabriella Gamberale Stille, telephone: +46 8 16 40 46, gabriella.gamberale@zoologi.