PROJECT TITLE: The ontogeny of personality in grey seals (Halichoerus grypus).
SUPERVISORS: Dr. Sean Twiss (Durham University), Dr. Patrick Pomeroy (SMRU, University of St. Andrews)
FUNDING: This project is in competition for funding from various sources (UK research councils, Durham Doctoral Fellowships, charitable trusts). Success will depend on the quality of applications received, relative to those for competing projects.
APPLICATION DEADLINE: 15th of February 2009
APPLICATION PROCEDURE: see below, or via the following link:
It is now widely recognised that non-human animals have personalities, defined as individual behavioural differences that are consistent over time and/or across contexts. Recent studies have demonstrated the existence of personalities in a remarkably broad range of taxa from mammals to molluscs. Such personality traits have been shown to be heritable and therefore subject to selection, with potentially significant impacts on individual fitness. However, as yet the vast majority of studies of personality in non-human species have been restricted to laboratory studies, and there have been many recent calls for research that examines the ecological relevance of personality in natural systems.
This studentship will capitalise upon an existing long term study of individual variation in behaviour and reproductive performance in the grey seal to ask if maternal and offspring (pup) behavioural types (personalities) are correlated, and to examine the role of early personality type on social relationships in weaned pups.
The main objectives of this studentship will be:
(1) To test for correlations between maternal and offspring indices of behavioural type.
(2) To test whether offspring behavioural type is predicted by maternal behavioural type or maternal and/or pup state (body condition) and whether this differs for male and female pups. (3) To examine ontogenetic changes in pup behavioural types during lactation and beyond weaning.
(4) To examine the impact of behavioural type on the social behaviour of male and female weaned pups within the breeding colony.
The project will involve extensive field based behavioural observations of individually identified grey seals at breeding colonies around the UK combined with novel in-field quantitative experimental tests of individual personality. Candidates will require the ability to conduct prolonged field work in isolated and harsh conditions as part of a small field research team.
Candidates should demonstrate a capability for planning and implementing structured field observations and behavioural experiments. An understanding and appreciation of behavioural and evolutionary ecology is essential, and experience in multivariate statistics is desirable.
The student will gain extensive training in field behavioural observation, compilation and maintenance of photo-ID database, spatial data manipulation and analyses within a GIS, statistical analyses (including quantifying personality and social associations), organisation of fieldwork logistics and safety in remote, isolated locations. The student will present work at national and international conferences.
To take advantage of all funding possibilities, applications must be received by (or on) the 15th of February.
All applications for postgraduate study must be made online via the Graduate School at http://www.dur.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/.
In addition, a full CV and covering letter (detailing your reasons for applying for the project) should be emailed to Dr Sean Twiss at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any further questions about the School, the University or the application process you should, in the first instance, contact
Research Administrator in the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.
Telephone: +44 (0)191 334 1200
School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Durham DH1 3LE UK
STUDYING IN DURHAM:
Information about the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences can be found on our website http://www.dur.ac.uk/biological.sciences/
Information about the postgraduate community and the University as a whole can be found on the web pages http://www.dur.ac.uk/postgraduate/ and http://www.dur.ac.uk/about/.
Dr. Sean Twiss,
Lecturer in Behavioural Ecology,
Zoology Degree Route Coordinator,
School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences,
The University of Durham,
Durham, DH1 3LE,UK.
Tel: +44 (0)191 334 1350 (office)
Tel: +44 (0)191 334 1247 (lab)
Fax: +44 (0)191 334 1201