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Social behaviour and population biology in birds

Project Description

Life on earth is fundamentally dependent on cooperative interactions among biological units. These social interactions may take the form of cooperation among genes or cells within organisms, between individuals within cooperative societies, or, in human societies, cooperation at an international or global scale. The study of social evolution involves investigation of the causes and consequences of such evolutionary transitions. My research group uses various bird species to investigate the ecological and evolutionary drivers of sociality in animals, and to explore its consequences for the behaviour of individuals and for the dynamics of their populations.

My research group in the Department of Animal & Plant Sciences has 25 years of experience of addressing problems in social evolution using diverse approaches, including comparative studies, field observations and experiments, population genetic analyses and modelling. We investigate pure and applied problems relating to social evolution using a variety of study systems from around the world, but most work is currently conducted on a cooperatively breeding bird, the long-tailed tit, in the vicinity of Sheffield. Another current project is on an invasive population of monk parakeets in Spain. I am happy to supervise PhD projects relating to the population biology and/or social behaviour on these species, or on other species of birds in the UK or elsewhere. Overseas students wishing to develop new field studies in their home country are welcome to contact me to discuss their ideas.

Science Graduate School
As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Funding Notes

The applicant will need to find funding to cover tuition fees and living expenses

The applicant should have, or expect to gain at least an upper second class degree, or equivalent overseas qualification, in a relevant subject

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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