PhD studentship: Evolution of parents feeding offspring

Supervisor:  Dr James Gilbert

Studying the evolutionary origins of parental care behaviour

Co-supervisors: Dr Isabella Capellini, Dr Lesley Morrell

School of Environmental Sciences (Biology), University of Hull

Application deadline: 13 March 2017

Start date: 25 September 2017

This PhD forms part of a research cluster of projects on the evolution of parental care, funded by the University of Hull. The successful student will become an active member of the research cluster, together with the supervisors, a postdoctoral researcher, and another PhD student. For more information on the other projects within the cluster, see here (postdoc – coming soon) and here (PhD). The successful student will also join the wider Ecology and Environment research group within with School of Environmental Sciences.

Parental feeding is rare among animals. The studentship will focus on this crucial but little-understood behaviour. Insects are excellent for asking evolutionary questions about parental care: strategies are diverse, and often differ among related species. The student will first complete and publish a large reproductive trait database for insects, begun by Dr Gilbert, and second, in a broad comparative analysis across many species, address the following questions: (1) What ecological factors favour the evolution and/or maintenance of parental provisioning? Does provisioning evolve with harsh or stable environments; scarce, specialized resources; or predation? Is loss of offspring self-sufficiency a key precondition for the evolution of parental provisioning? (2) What are the evolutionary consequences of a food-provisioning strategy? Is optional (or partial) food provisioning behaviour inherently unstable? The project will deepen our understanding of an extremely important group, insects, and provides key comparisons not available in groups like mammals who uniformly feed offspring.

To be considered for the shortlist, interested applicants are strongly advised to contact James Gilbert well in advance of application. Please enclose a CV and a brief explanation of why this position interests you, and any questions you have. Applicants should have at least a 2.1 undergraduate degree in Biology, Ecology, or related discipline, together with relevant research experience. A 1st class undergraduate degree or Masters level qualification are anticipated.

Further requirements: experience essential with at least one out of: database management, phylogenies, insect behaviour studies; two or more desirable. Experience with R desirable.

Apply by clicking the link in the FindAPhD advertClosing date: – 13th March 2017. Studentship will start on 25th September 2017 .