About the Project
However, the main focus of research in this areas has been into in-ovo factors, such as hormones or yolk nutritional value. Avian embryos are regularly exposed to ‘external’ acoustic stimuli, including natural conspecific calls and anthropogenic noise. Recent work from the Mechanisms of Behaviour group at St Andrews has shown that embryonic exposure to different sound types can program different neuroendocrine and behavioural phenotypes in early post-natal life in Japanese quail. This suggests that external stimuli may also play a role in shaping later health outcomes and they could be a tool for optimising welfare. However several questions still remain unanswered: 1. Are phenotypic responses to pre-natal acoustic stimuli adaptive in that they prepare an individual for the post-natal environment? 2. How persistent are acoustically altered phenotypes into the post-natal period and 3. What are the mechanisms by which acoustic stimuli alter phenotypic traits in the short and long-term?
This PhD project will utilise a range of techniques to answer these three questions using a well-established captive avian model, the Japanese quail. There will also be the possibility to extend the work into free living birds, using the semi-precocial herring gull as a model. The project will integrate information across different levels of complexity, from organismal to molecular to truly understand how pre-natal acoustic stimuli can shape avian phenotypes. The student will gain experience in behavioural assays, bioacoustics, physiological assays, neuroendocrine measurement, immunohistochemistry and cutting edge molecular techniques. One aim of the project will be to use RNA seq analyses to identify candidate mechanisms for the potential programming effects of different acoustic stimuli. Work on captive species may also lead to the development of tools for the poultry industry to maximise avian chick welfare, which would allow the student to gain experience of applied research.
Apply by 5.00 pm on 5 December 2018 following the instructions on how to apply at: http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0
Informal inquiries to the primary supervisor are very strongly encouraged.
• Rivera, M., Louder, M.I.M., Kleindorfer, S. et al. (2018). Avian prenatal auditory stimulation: progress and perspectives. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 72: 112. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-018-2528-0
Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.
Based on your current search criteria we thought you might be interested in these.