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MASTERS BY RESEARCH PROJECT WITH FEES BURSARY: Transparency as an Anti-predator Adaptation

Project Description

Transparency has been shown to be a highly effective means of reducing detectability by visual predators, particularly in aquatic organisms, by enabling prey to blend in with their environment. However, achieving complete transparency is challenging, as some body parts (such as the gut and eyes) will invariably be opaque and even notionally transparent tissues will be subject to unavoidable light scattering. Because of this, transparent prey may be particularly detectable when they move, although the extent of this is likely to vary with the visual background against which they are viewed, and the characteristics of a viewing predator’s visual system (such as their visual acuity).
In this project, the successful candidate will experimentally investigate how detectability to predators is influenced by the interaction between these factors. This will be studied using different experimental approaches, including the use of real animals (e.g. freshwater fish) and by creating virtual reality (VR) simulations in which both the characteristics (e.g. the visual appearance and movement) of transparent prey and the visual systems of putative predators can be experimentally controlled.
The project will be supervised by Dr Tom Pike (Behavioural Ecology) and Prof Oliver Burman (Animal Welfare Science). The successful candidate will be registered for a 1-year full time Masters by Research degree at the University of Lincoln, and will be part of a vibrant postgraduate environment. A Masters by Research degree is a 1 year research degree that is distinct from taught Masters programmes and involves planning, implementing and writing up a research project. You will be encouraged to submit your work for publication at the end of the programme.

Applicants must be highly motivated and should have, or expect to obtain, at least a 2.i BSc, MBiol or equivalent qualification in a relevant subject. Experience of fieldwork would be an advantage. The studentship must commence by October 2019.

How to Apply
If you are interested in applying for this project, send your CV, results transcript with grades (or known individual module/course component performance), covering letter detailing your experience and reasons for applying, and the names of two independent academic referees, to the project supervisors, Prof Oliver Burman () and Dr Tom Pike (). Deadline for applications 30th August 2019.

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will receive a tuition fee bursary that covers the cost of UK/EU tuition fees (£4,327), but no stipend. Field equipment and research costs will also be covered.

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