I am currently advertising for a PhD student with interests in evolution and behaviour to work on a project investigating the role of iridescent structural colour in predator avoidance and mate choice in Heliconius butterflies, co-supervised by Mike Speed, Institute of Integrative Biology, Liverpool.
The bright wing colours of these butterflies act as warnings to predators and mimicry between species facilitates predator learning and reduces attack rates. Wing colours are also used for mate choice and attraction. The main colours used are red, yellow and black, due to pigments, but a small number of species also exhibit iridescent blue/green, due to sub-micron scale structures. The role of these colours in deterring predators and attracting mates is less well understood. The project can be tailored to the interests of the student but would likely involve experiments using captive butterfly populations in South/Central America and the UK, and could involve experiments with wild or captive avian predators or theoretical modelling. The project would also tie in with ongoing work on the genetic basis of these traits.
If successful, the student would be fully funded for a minimum of 3.5 years, studentships cover: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (at least £14,296 per annum for 2017-2018), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Studentship(s) are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries who do not meet residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award.
This PhD project is part of the NERC funded Doctoral Training Partnership “ACCE” (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment). This is a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool, York and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Further information and details of how to apply are here. The closing date is the 9th of January 2017. Interested candidates are also welcome to contact me for further information.
Selection process: Shortlisting will take place as soon as possible after the closing date and may involve an informal interview. The shortlisted applicant will be notified promptly and invited for a formal interview to take place at the University of Sheffield the w/c 13th February 2017.