Multimodal sexual signaling and the evolution of animal mating systems under environmental perturbation
A 4-year PhD position is available on a project investigating the evolution of signaling under various environmental regimes, and how signaling constraints may affect sexual selection and mating systems in pipefishes.
The project aims to characterize the genetic mating systems and the intensity of sexual selection in experimental populations of pipefish under various environmental treatments. A second goal of the project is to explore the effects of various sensory modalities such as visual, olfactory and auditory cues. The study organisms are the deep-snouted pipefish (Syngnathus typhle), the straight-nose pipefish (Nerophis ophidion) and the snake pipefish (Entelurus aequoreus). These three marine species are sex-role reversed, i.e., females compete more intensively for mating opportunities for males. Females likely rely on multiple cues to communicate with males and to compete with other females in order to increase their mating success.
An explosive growth of filamentous algae following eutrophication in our waters increases water turbidity and reduces visibility. Consequently, sexual selection on visual signals (such as pipefish ornaments and courtship behaviour) may be impaired, and females may be forced to use other signals such as chemical or auditory ones. The project aims to investigate such alternative signals. Moreover, we and others have noted a sudden dramatic increase in population density of the snake pipefish Entelurus aequoreus, presumably due to a general rise in water temperatures. This makes it important to test predictions about population density and the intensity of sexual selection to assess unexpected consequences from climate change. This part of the project has specific relevance for biodiversity research.
The long-term goal of the project is to understand how ecological factors and environmental perturbation may shape mating systems and alter sexual selection and to understand the relative contributions of signaling modalities to the sexual selection process. The project will consist of field work at Kristineberg Marine Research Station, Fiskebäckskil, along with molecular analysis in Trondheim, Norway and College Station, Texas, and data analysis in the Uppsala department. The Department of Ecology and Evolution/Animal Ecology has an active and successful graduate student program. The close links with other departments within the Evolutionary Biology Centre offers excellent possibilities for interdisciplinary research in evolutionary biology. The PhD project is part of a Science Research Council project on mating systems and sexual selection in sex-role reversed pipefish, in collaboration with Norwegian and US researchers.
The successful candidate should have a degree (240 Swedish academic credits worth of courses with at least 60 academic credits) at the advanced level or the equivalent (for instance if acquired abroad)) in biology. The project is suitable for someone with a strong interest in sexual selection and sexual signaling and the link between these processes and mating systems. We consider previous experience in laboratory experiments, statistical analysis of such data, field work and particularly experience in such work on fishes as an advantage. We place emphasis on personal suitability. We expect candidates to work in a group as well as independently and have good organizational skills. Applicants are obliged to participate in an organized PhD training program. Strong English communicative skills are a must. Salary
follows the guidelines from Uppsala University (rising from approximately 15000-22000 SEK/month in 4 years).
How to apply:
Please e-mail a statement of interest and research goals (one page max), CV, publication list, a transcript of academic courses taken and a letter of recommendation sent by a referee to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, give names and e-mail addresses of two additional references. The application deadline is the 30 June 2008, and the project can start earliest (preferred, but negotiable) at September 1st, 2008. Informal enquiries to email@example.com are welcome.
Prof. Anders Berglund
Animal Ecology/Department of Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology
Centre, Uppsala University
752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
tel: 46(0)184712643, mobile: 46 (0)701679030, fax: 46(0)184716484