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EASTBIO Aging and social behaviour

  • Full or part time
    Dr P Smiseth
    Dr J Moorad
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, January 05, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Aging is associated with a gradual deterioration of health and function in humans, other animals, and plants. Most current research focuses on how aging affects those individuals who do the aging. However, given that aging individuals interact with other individuals, it is now important to understand how social interactions with others may impact on the rate of aging. For example, stressful interactions such as competition may speed up aging whilst benign interactions such as cooperation may slow the rate of aging. Furthermore, it is now important to understand how the effects of aging may spread to younger individuals that interact with older ones. For example, younger individuals that cooperate with older ones may increase their contribution towards a common task, such as caring for joint offspring. If so, younger individuals may suffer from indirect costs of aging.

This project will be conducted on the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides. This species is an ideal study system because they have elaborate social behaviours, including biparental cooperation and resource competition. Furthermore, this species can be studied under laboratory conditions, which facilitates collection of data on social behaviours and rates of aging.

The project will provide training in evolutionary theory of aging and social behaviour, experimental design, collection and statistical analyses of behavioural data and data on aging, preparation of oral presentations and written manuscripsts.

Further reading:
Ivimey-Cook, E.R. & Moorad, J.A. 2018. Disentangling pre- and post-natal maternal age effects on offspring performance in an insect with elaborate maternal care. American Naturalist 192. (DOI: 10.1086/699654)

Mattey, S.N. & Smiseth, P.T. 2015. Complex effects of inbreeding on biparental cooperation. American Naturalist, 185, 1–12.

Richardson, J. & Smiseth, P.T. 2017. Intraspecific competition and inbreeding depression: increased competitive effort by inbred males induces a fitness cost to outbred opponents. American Naturalist 189, 539–548.

Funding Notes

The “Visit Website” button will take you to our Online Application checklist. Complete each step and download the checklist which will provide a list of funding options and guide you through the application process. Follow the instructions on the EASTBIO website (you will be directed here from our application checklist), ensuring you upload an EASTBIO application form and transcripts to your application, and ticking the box to request references. Your referees should upload their references using the EASTBIO reference form, in time for the 5th January deadline so please give them plenty of time to do this by applying early.

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 109.70

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