PhD vacancy: Evolution of parasite traits in a bird-tick system
Host-parasite interactions are considered among the most dynamic co-evolutionary processes, as host and parasite exert mutual selective pressures leading to a chain of adaptations and counter-adaptations. To understand this process, a key element is the quantification of heritable individual variation and selection pressures in both host and parasite. This PhD project uses an experimental bird-tick system where hosts have a high degree of tolerance (i.e. minimal harm) towards a specialized parasite. In this system we will explore how parasite traits are shaped by natural selection through the study of genetic variation, trade-offs among traits, and selection pressures related to the host and the environment. Individual ticks will be followed across multiple generation in a strict breeding design, combined with controlled infestations of hosts in the lab and in the field. Using hosts with a known pedigree further allows us to bring in their phenotypic and genetic background as well. Thus, aside from field and lab work the project also involves a strong modelling component for pedigree and fitness analyses. We have ten years of experience with this study system providing a solid basis for a successful project.
Profile and requirements
- You hold a Master degree in Biology or comparable with a strong background in ecology and evolutionary biology;
- You can submit outstanding academic results;
- You have a solid training in both uni- and multivariate statistical analysis;
- Experience with parasite research, bird ringing and handling, and/or quantitative genetics is an advantage.
- A doctoral scholarship for a period of two years, with the possibility of renewal for a further two-year period after positive evaluation;
- The starting date of the scholarship will be February 1st 2017;
- You will enrol in the Antwerp Doctoral School training program (www.uantwerpen.be/ads) allowing you to take part in various courses, training programs and conferences within and outside the university;
- You will work in a team of several PhD students, postdocs and technical staff involved in eco-evolutionary research on birds and bird parasites;
- You will be member of the Evolutionary Ecology group, a dynamic and internationally-oriented research group that combines field, lab and modelling approaches to study various questions in ecological and evolutionary research, mainly focusing on birds and mammals (www.uantwerpen.be/eveco).
- Applicants should send their complete CV, a one-page statement of research interests and motivation for this project, and contact information of two referees who can supply letters of recommendation upon our request
- Applications should be submitted by email to Prof. Erik Matthysen at firstname.lastname@example.org until the closing date: 5 December 2016
- For more information, contact Erik Matthysen at the same email adress or at (+32) 3265 3464
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