About the Project
Most studies of natural populations cannot measure the evolutionary dynamics of EGP accurately. However, as Seychelles warblers almost never leave their resident islands and are closely monitored, survival, lifetime reproductive fitness and EGP rates can be estimated accurately. Seychelles warblers have an unusually high rate of EGP (40%), which varies among individuals and has been linked to “good genes”. This provides a rare opportunity to determine the genomic basis of EGP.
This PhD will use large-scale representational sequencing analysis from across the genome, combined with a genetic pedigree of >1800 individuals and detailed residency data, to quantify variation and identify genomic regions contributing to EGP. The student will develop expertise in quantitative and evolutionary genetics, genomic analysis and statistical modelling. With its uncompromised fitness estimates, detailed environmental data and well understood kin selection effects this dataset provides a unique and powerful resource for studying the genomic basis of extra-pair paternity.
The student will benefit from interactions with all members of Seychelles Warbler Project (http://seychelles-warbler-project.group.shef.ac.uk) and a vibrant academic environment at the University of Leeds, including training programs through LeedsOmics (http://www.leedsomics.org). They will be supervised by Dr Hannah Dugdale (Leeds) and Prof Terry Burke (Sheffield). They will collaborate with Dr Alex Sparks (Leeds), Prof David S Richardson (East Anglia), and Prof Jan Komdeur (Groningen).
We welcome applications from students with a background in biology or related disciplines such as Maths or Computer Science, where applicants have a keen interest in evolutionary biology. Students with a biological background must demonstrate good quantitative skills such as programming or statistics.
Previous experience of bird ringing, fieldwork in harsh environments, molecular techniques, bioinformatics, Access databases and statistics would be beneficial; however, excellent training will be provided (e.g. www.fbs.leeds.ac.uk/postgraduate/professionaldev.php). The student will be required to conduct fieldwork for a minimum of three seasons (up to 3 months per season).
Please apply online here https://studentservices.leeds.ac.uk/pls/banprod/bwskalog_uol.P_DispLoginNon. Include project title and supervisor name, and upload a CV, letter of motivation and transcripts.
Richardson, D. S., Komdeur, J., Burke, T., & Schantz, von, T. (2005). MHC-based patterns of social and extra-pair mate choice in the Seychelles warbler. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 272(1564), 759–767. http://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2004.3028
Richardson, D. S., Komdeur, J., & Burke, T. (2004). Inbreeding in the Seychelles warbler: environment-dependent maternal effects. Evolution, 58(9), 2037–2048. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.0014-3820.2004.tb00488.x
Wright, D. J., Brouwer, L., Mannarelli, M. E., & Burke, T. (2016). Social pairing of Seychelles warblers under reduced constraints: MHC, neutral heterozygosity, and age. Behavioral Ecology, 27(1), 295–303. http://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arv150
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