New Caledonian crows are renowned for their ability to manufacture complex foraging tools from plant materials. For example, using an elaborate sequence of actions, they craft hooked stick tools from branching vegetation, and employing completely different techniques, they cut a variety of tool shapes from the barbed edges of screw-pine leaves. Professor Christian Rutz’s research group has been studying the behavioural ecology of New Caledonian crows since 2005, focussing on seven established study sites. Building on some of the group’s recent advances, this PhD project will provide a detailed investigation of the tool-manufacture behaviour of wild crows. There is considerable flexibility with regards to specific study objectives, but the successful candidate is likely to conduct both field observations and aviary-based experiments with temporarily captive subjects, with excellent scope for collaboration with other group members and external project partners. This fully funded PhD project offers exciting opportunities for a highly motivated student to join a dynamic research group, to conduct topical research on the behavioural ecology of one of the most accomplished non-human tool users, and to receive training in state-of-the-art field-ornithological research methodologies.
CENTRE FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
The Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD) at the University of St Andrews provides a highly interactive and stimulating environment for doctoral students, with particular strengths in animal behaviour and evolution. The successful candidate would benefit from frequent interactions with postgraduates, postdocs and PIs, including lab chats, seminars, and discussion groups.
Please address any inquiries, with CV and a cover letter outlining your interest in the position, to Professor Christian Rutz ([Email Address Removed]). Before you get in touch, please consult the references listed below, to get a good understanding of the group’s current research activities.
+ outstanding academic track record
+ excellent analytical, writing and communication skills
+ demonstrable skill and enthusiasm for behavioural research and fieldwork
+ high degree of self-motivation and independence
+ ability and willingness to live and work overseas, for extended periods of time and sometimes under challenging field conditions
+ clean driving licence
+ prior research experience is an advantage
+ basic French language skills are an advantage
How To Apply
Please make a formal application to the School of Biology through our Online Application Portal.
We require the following documents; CV, personal statement, 2 references, academic qualifications, English language qualification (if applicable).
Keywords: Animal Behaviour, Behavioural Ecology, Evolutionary Ecology, Animal Cognition, Tool Use, Social Learning, Cultural Evolution