Location: Roehampton University (London, UK)
Duration: Flexible, 2-5 months
Contacts: Andrea Perna (email@example.com)
Dan Perkins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Trophic interactions, such as herbivory and predation play an important role in determining the relative abundance of species within an ecosystem and ultimately the productivity and stability of the ecosystem itself. Small variations in the rate of prey capture and consumption by a predator can trigger abrupt -often dramatic- ecological transitions. Can we predict the emerging properties of an ecosystem and anticipate when transitions will occur from the simple observation of the ‘behaviour’ of individual organisms and their interactions, e.g. from the chasing behaviour of predators and the patterns of movement and aggregation of prey? This can be difficult in real-world ecosystems, but it becomes manageable in artificial ecosystems comprising only a few species in a controlled environment.
You will take part in a research project funded by the Royal Society and by Roehampton University aimed at linking ecological patterns to the individual-level behaviour of unicellular predators and preys. The project consists in characterising the behaviour and predator-prey interactions of microorganisms adapted for several generations at different temperature in microscopic artificial ecosystems (microcosms). By using digital image analysis and video-tracking tools developed by the host laboratory you will obtain accurate measures of body size, speed and patterns of movement of predators and of the spatial distribution and movement of prey.
Duties of the successful applicant:
• Participate in running the microcosm experiments
• Lead on microscope based data collection and imaging
• Partake in running video-tracking software and data analysis
• We hope to publish the work in a peer-reviewed journal; the research assistant will be a co-author
You will be based at Roehampton University in London. The duration is flexible, but the total salary budget is limited to ~ £3000 and is paid on an hourly basis at a rate depending on experience.
An interest for the research topic, together with good practical and analytical skills, is the major prerequisite for this internship.