Male-driven sex allocation: adaptive adjustments in sperm sex ratios.
The ability of males to adjust offspring sex ratios has traditionally been dismissed on the assumption that their contribution is genetically determined during meiosis and therefore not under adaptive control. Recent demonstrations of paternal influences over sex ratios have refuted this assumption, making male-driven sex allocation a highly topical area of research. Our own investigations have demonstrated that the sperm sex ratio is a variable phenotypic trait that is influenced by the social environment that individuals are exposed to during development. These novel findings highlight the potential that adjustments in sperm sex ratios function as a mechanism of male-driven sex allocation.
We are looking for a highly-motivated candidate interested in conducting the first direct assessment of adaptive male-driven sex allocation. In this PhD project you will sample remote Western Australian island populations of house mice and perform experimental manipulations in the lab. This project will ensure that you learn a variety of important methods in behavioural ecology (fieldwork, experimental design, statistical analysis), molecular biology (qPCR), and endocrinology (ELISA hormone assays). This project will be based in Centre for Evolutionary Biology (CEB) at the University of Western Australia. The CEB is a vibrant, multidisciplinary group that stimulates innovative research and offers a positive, supportive research environment, especially for students. The project will be supervised by Dr Renee Firman ([Email Address Removed]), who is a research-focused Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the CEB.
Candidates with experience in behavioural ecology or evolutionary biology, and field experience with small rodents are encouraged to apply. Applicants should submit a CV with the names of two referees, an academic transcript, and a cover letter outlining their research interests and motivation before the closing date. We will then get in touch with short-listed applications. The starting date will be during the second half of 2020.
Applicants need to demonstrate that they are competitive for a scholarship under the Research Training Program (RTP); funding for domestic/international PhD students provided by the Australian Government. An additional top-up scholarship may be awarded ($5,000). Because the RTP scholarships scheme is highly competitive, applicants must have a first class Honours or Master’s degree with research experience (e.g., an Honours project). Successful recipients typically have research publications and have studied at institutions that are highly ranked within their country of origin and preferably highly ranked globally. The research component of the project will be fully-funded by the Australian Research Council.