PhD Studentship in Animal Behaviour – What makes an effective deceptive signal
Understanding the design of prey colour patterns continues to be a major challenge in evolutionary biology. Many palatable prey deceive predators by resembling the appearance of toxic species found in the same locality. This project will experimentally investigate how these mimetic signals are designed in order to best fool predators.
The project will involve the use of analytical techniques, computational neuroscience and behavioural experiments to characterise real mimetic patterns, model their effects on the perceptual systems of predators, and test what makes them ‘effective’ using experiments with birds and humans. This will allow us to comprehensively assess how and why mimetic fidelity varies among species, and for the first time, quantitatively measure how mimics influence the patterns of their aposematic models.
Cross-disciplinary training will be provided in sensory ecology, image analysis methods, and behavioural testing. As well as having theoretical importance in terms of understanding the evolution of anti-predator colouration, the work will be of applied significance in terms of designing visual signals that deter birds.
Eligibility Criteria: You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent, in a subject relating to the behavioural sciences, including: psychology, zoology, biological and neuroscience. A further qualification such as an MRes is advantageous.
This award is available to UK/EU and international applicants. If English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 6.5, or equivalent.
How to apply:
You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system - http://www.ncl.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.
Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:
• insert the programme code 8300F in the programme of study section
• select ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences – Neuroscience’ as the programme of study
• insert the studentship code 06MREA in the studentship/partnership reference field
• attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote the studentship reference code 06MREA and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
• attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications
Sponsor: Research Excellence Academy, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University
Value of award: 100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £14,057. Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between the UK/EU fees and international fees.