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PhD position  – University of Bielefeld
Social influences during adolescence on adult behaviour in zebra finches: endocrine mechanisms and functional consequences

A three-year PhD position is available at the Department of Animal Behaviour, University of Bielefeld, for work on a project combining behavioural and endocrinological approaches to study effects of social environment during adolescence on adult behavioural and hormonal response to social challenges using the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) as a model species.
Phenotypic plasticity is caused by the interplay of environment and genetic background. Early environment can predict future conditions which enables the organism flexibly to adjust its development accordingly. In a variety of species, social influences during adolescence can modify adult behaviour, physiology and morphology. However, we still know very little about the (hormonal) mechanisms and function of these effects. This project will look at hormonal profiles and behaviour of individuals experiencing different social environments during adolescence. We use hormonal manipulations to study their role in behaviour and the endocrine system in adult life. Finally, we will study the functional consequences of adult social behaviour by assessing fitness costs and benefits in different social settings during adulthood.
I am seeking a highly motivated and independent student who is interested in the hormonal mechanisms, development and function of social behaviour. The PhD project will require skills in the handling of birds and behavioural observations, invasive techniques (blood sampling, hormonal implants) and lab work, all of which may involve regular attendance during weekends.
The applicant ideally has experience with animal experimentation and observation as well as with lab techniques relating to the above. Excellent communication skills in English as well as experience in statistical analyses and scientific writing are a definite advantage. An MSc (or equivalent) in Biology is required.
My young and dynamic research group ( http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/biologie/vhf/NE/) is part of the Department of Animal Behaviour. We offer a stimulating international environment with research groups focusing on function, mechanisms and evolution of behaviour, using a variety of model systems in the lab and the field. We have excellent research infrastructure and supporting staff and the working language is English.

The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and embedded in a larger research unit with several PhD projects at the University of Bielefeld and Münster studying the “Reduction of phenotypic plasticity in behaviour by early experience: functional consequences of an adaptive mechanism‣ ( http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/(en)/biologie/fg1232/). The successful candidate will therefore benefit from additional scientific meetings, master classes and method workshops.
The PhD salary is set according to the regulations of public service in Germany (TV-L E13, 65%). The contract is for three years and shall start at the earliest in February 2013.

Ultimo aggiornamento: 05/04/2013 15:40
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