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Conflict management in the highly social cichlid fish, Neolamprologus pulcher

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, February 07, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

I am looking for students with excellent CVs (first class degree and/or distinction at Masters level, plus relevant experience and/or publication success in peer reviewed journals) to apply for a competitive 3 year doctoral scholarship in the school of Natural Sciences and Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University.

Group living provides substantial advantages but may also engender conflict over reproduction or other resources. In order for groups to form and persist, animals must be able to manage this conflict. Across species, complex sociality involves an interplay between dominance hierarchies, aggression, submission, cooperation, and kinship. Understanding these dynamics is a major focus in social behaviour research. Much of the work done so far has examined primates and other mammals, however, conducting carefully controlled experiments in these species is often difficult. The cooperatively breeding cichlid fish, Neolamprologus pulcher, lives and breeds in highly complex permanent social groups. N. pulcher are small bodied and can easily be housed in aquaria where these remarkable fish will perform their full suite of social behaviour.

We will make use of a newly established N. pulcher breeding colony at LJMU. Social behaviours can be scored within these groups using both live observations and high definition video recordings. I am interested in understanding social behaviour from an integrative perspective, and thus neural, endocrine and/or molecular approaches may also be used. The specific details of the project are flexible and can be developed in collaboration with the successful candidate to align with his or her interests, skills, and expertise. This is an excellent opportunity for a keen student to develop their own project. The project will likely be primarily laboratory based, though field work in Lake Tanganyika may also be possible.

Preferred candidate characteristics include a keen interest in animal social behaviour; experience studying behaviour in the laboratory and/or the field; strong writing and analytical skills; knowledge of experimental design and statistical analysis. Previous experience working with fish is desirable but not essential. Full training will be provided. UK/EU nationals only.

Please apply by email to with a CV, a brief statement outlining your interest, and the names and contact information for two references. Please feel free to email me with any questions.

Funding Notes

The selected candidate will be put up for a competitive internal award. If successful, the scholarship will cover all applicable fees for 3 years including a stipend at the standard UK rate (~£15000pa) and provides £1500pa in research funding.

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