jeudi 2 février 2017

PhD Studentship - Behavioural Signatures of Parasitism

PhD Studentship - Behavioural Signatures of Parasitism
Applications are sought for candidates with backgrounds in Ecology or Animal Behaviour with strong fieldwork skills and an interest in quantitative approaches, for the above PhD position jointly offered by the University of Edinburgh, SRUC and (BioSS). Applicants should have a 2:1 degree or higher in a biological subject e.g. Ecology or Zoology. Applicants with a 2:2 degree may be considered if they have a Masters degree in a relevant subject.

Pathogen-induced changes in animal behaviour are seen in both natural and livestock systems. However, the contribution of behaviour to parasite control has not been explored. In agricultural systems, gastrointestinal (GI) parasitism in grazing livestock is inevitable and production losses are incurred before clinical signs are apparent to the farmer. There are also environmental impacts of parasitism with low production efficiency resulting in greater greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of meat produced. A further challenge is that of anthelmintic resistance of GI parasites, which is rapidly escalating on a worldwide scale. Identification of individuals within a herd or a flock that require treatment at an early stage would reduce these impacts.

This project will investigate the impact of parasitism of social group dynamics and explore the feasibility of using changes in host behaviour as an early indicator of parasitism. Using livestock, the project will characterise and quantify the effects of parasitism on individual and group behaviours via both controlled field experimentation and field observation. Behavioural data will be collected using remote monitoring techniques (proximity loggers and activity monitors), and analysed using statistical techniques such as social network analysis. The project will also explore the potential for developing algorithms to identify infected individuals within a group.

The stipend for this 3.5 year studentship is £14,553 pa, with an anticipated start date of 1st October 2017. The successful applicant will be based at SRUC, Easter Bush (on the outskirts of Edinburgh) and registered for a PhD at the University of Edinburgh. The successful candidate will be expected to make frequent visits to all partner institutions. This studentship is funded to pay the tuition fees of UK/EU nationals only. Non UK/EU nationals must provide evidence of sufficient funds to cover the higher international student tuition fee level (approximately £14,900 per year would be required). To discuss the position informally, potential candidates are invited to contact Dr Lesley Smith (

SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College, delivers comprehensive skills, education and business support for Scotland’s land-based industry founded on world class, sector leading research, education and consultancy. SRUC’s joint submission with the University of Edinburgh to the Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science subpanel of the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) ranks top in the UK on research power.

Online applications can be submitted via our website Applicants who are unable to access the online system can request an application pack from Tel 0131 535 4028 quoting reference SRUC/1031360/Hutchings. CV’s are not accepted without a completed application form. If English is not an applicant’s first language, an approved English language certificate may be required – see further particulars for more details.
The closing date for the return of applications is 5pm on 10th March 2017.