PhD position in eco-evolutionary modelling is available for four years starting from 1st October 2021 in a project “Sex, aggression and ecology – how sexual selection alters population dynamics?”. This collaborative project is led by Jacek Radwan (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan), Rob Knell (Queen Mary University, London) and Tom Cameron (University of Essex), and is funded by Polish Science Centre (NCN). The student will receive a stipend of 5000 PLN/month and will be co-supervised by the JR and RK. In addition to carrying out research in our enthusiastic team, the student will have opportunity to attend specialized courses for PhD students in English. The candidate should hold MSc degree in biological sciences or bioinformatics. Interested candidates should sent their CV and a motivation letter (via email) to the project leader, who will provide further information about the project and application procedure (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Project summary: In recent years an increasing awareness that sexual selection may play a crucial role in larger scale processes such as adaptation to altered environments and population persistence has developed, but empirical support for this role is extremely inconsistent. The aim of the proposed project is to resolve this inconsistencies by using a combination of simulation modelling and laboratory experiments. Laboratory experiments investigate the effects of sexual selection on a variety of ecologically important variables and on population dynamic behaviour. We will use an experimental system that is uniquely suited for this purpose, the soil mite Sancassania berlesei, which can be readily cultured and manipulated in the lab and is male-dimorphic with respect to sexually selected weapon. The proportion of armoured, aggressive males in the population can be easily manipulated experimentally, which allows varying the strength of sexual selection. We will test whether (i) sexual selection interacts with population size in determining population dynamics and persistence in face of environmental population and (ii) whether sexual selection affect carrying capacity and if it interacts in this respect with environmental complexity. Theoretical work will examine how the effects of different mating systems impact on the overall effects of strong sexual selection, and will explore the ecological effects of sexual selection in a wide range of scenarios.