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Female competition and maternal effects in a social mammal

  • Full or part time
    Prof Paula Stockley
    Prof JL Hurst
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 08, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Maternal effects have important roles in a broad range of ecological and evolutionary processes, such as population dynamics, phenotypic plasticity and evolutionary responses to selection. This project will investigate how female competition drives such effects in a social mammal. The student will develop and test hypotheses to investigate how the competitive environment experienced by mothers influences the growth, behaviour and fertility of their offspring. An experimental approach will utilise a model social vertebrate, the house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus), under carefully controlled semi-natural conditions. We will explore how contrasting social conditions (e.g. the presence or absence of competitors) affect maternal care and physiology, and test how the maternal competitive phenotype and social environment interact to influence offspring development (e.g. offspring growth, fertility, social behaviour and competitive ability). In addition to advancing fundamental understanding of maternal and early-life effects in a social context, this project has potential applications in the management of animal populations for conservation and other purposes.

The student will join a highly active research environment,within the Mammalian Behaviour & Evolution Group based at the University of Liverpool’s Leahurst Campus ( We are part of the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour (DEEB), within the Institute of Integrative Biology.

Funding Notes

Competitive funding of tuition fee, research costs and stipend (£15,009 tax-free, 2019-20) from the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership “Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment” (ACCE, View Website ). ACCE – a collaboration between the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield,and York – is the only dedicated ecology/evolution/conservation Doctoral Training Partnership in the UK.

Applications (CV, letter of application, 2 referees) by email to deadline: January 8th 2020. Interviews in or after the week commencing : 10th February 2020. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed for only one project from the ACCE partnership.


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