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Individual variation in age-specific reproductive success and survival in wild yellow-bellied marmots


   School of Biological Sciences

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  Dr J Martin  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisors: Dr Julien Martin, Dr Jane Reid & Dr Dan Blumstein

Understanding the causes and consequences of senescence, defined as declines in reproductive success and survival in old age, is a key but challenging aim in evolutionary ecology. It has recently been realised that the magnitude and relative timing of senescence can vary among individual population members, and that quantifying such individual variation is key to understanding the ecological and evolutionary causes and consequences of senescence.

This project will use 52 years of data from a wild population of yellow bellied marmots, where individuals have been marked, weighed and observed from birth to death, to quantify individual variation in survival and reproduction during late life, and to explore the quantitative genetic basis of and life-history consequences of this variation.

The student will be based within the dynamic Ecology research group at the University of Aberdeen. They will contribute to data collection through 2 summers of fieldwork at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Colorado, USA, and then apply sophisticated statistical analyses to the long-term data. Full training in fieldwork and data analysis will be provided, providing a broad range of necessary skills for ecological research.


Funding Notes

Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, an upper second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK.

Funding is available to UK nationals or those EU nationals who can demonstrate that they have been resident in the UK for three years.

You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing.

Enquiries should be made to [Email Address Removed]

References

Blumstein, DT, Lea, AJ, Olson, LE, Martin, JGA (2010) Heritability of anti-predatory traits: vigilance and locomotor performance in marmots. J. Evol. Biol. 23, 879-887.

Martin, JGA, Festa-Bianchet, M (2011) Age-independent and age-dependent decreases in reproduction of females. Ecol. Let. 14, 576–581.

Nussey, DH, Coulson, T, Festa-Bianchet, M, Gaillard, J-M (2008) Measuring senescence in wild animal populations: towards a longitudinal approach. Funct. Ecol. 22, 393–406.

Reid, JM, Bignal, E, Bignal, S, McCracken, DI, Monaghan, P (2010) Parent age, lifespan and offspring survival: structured variation in life-history. J. Anim. Ecol. 79, 851-862.

Reid, JM, Bignal, EM, Bignal, S, McCracken, DI, Monaghan, P (2003) Age-specific reproductive performance in the red-billed chough: patterns and processes in a natural population. J. Anim. Ecol. 72, 765-776.
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