Current opportunities with the Wheatcroft Lab

We are looking for a PhD student!

Closing date: 2021-11-05

Project description
A 4-year PhD position, funded by the European Research Council, is available in the research group of David Wheatcroft. We utilize an inter-discplinary approach to disentangle the roles of early life experience and genetics in song learning in pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca), collared flycatchers (F. albicollis), and their hybrids. These approaches include long-term field monitoring, behavioral experiments in the field and laboratory (including operant conditioning), acoustic analysis, neuroscience, and genomics.
Within this framework, the exact focus of the project is flexible and depends on the specific interests and skills of the applicant. Among other topics, the project could focus on the proximate mechansims underlying responses to songs in juvenile birds and connecting these responses to subsequent learning, utilizing behavioral and/or neuroscientific approaches to assess auditory-vocal development, and exploring how early life conditions influence subsequent behavioral traits, including song.
An important focus of the research would be on groups of juvenile pied flycatchers, kept at Tovetorp research station, around 1.5 hour from Stockholm University (https://www.tovetorp.com/). Captive-rearing allows us to manipulate song experience and track the development of auditory ability and song production. In addition, we study wild flycatchers during the breeding season, allowing for projects connecting the lab with the field.

Research environment
A vibrant, international, and collaborative research environment in the Department of Zoology at Stockholm University (https://www.su.se/zoologi/english/). The Department of Zoology consists of five divisions: Ecology, Ethology, Functional Morphology, Population Genetics, and Systematics and Evolution. At present the department accommodates 45–50 staff and a similar number of PhD students. The advertised position will be part of the Division of Ethology. There is a long-standing tradition for researchers at the Division of Ethology to collaborate with researchers from other fields, such as evolutionary ecology, theoretical evolutionary biology, and the study of cultural evolution.

Selection criteria
The selection among the eligible candidates will be based on their capacity to benefit from the training. The following criteria will be used to assess this capacity: the candidates’ documented knowledge in a relevant field of research, written and oral proficiency in English, the capacity for analytical thinking, the ability to collaborate, as well as creativity, initiative, and independence. The assessment will be based on previous experience and grades, the quality of the degree project, references, relevant experience, interviews, and the candidate’s written motivation for seeking the position.
Candidates should have demonstrated knowledge and skills in evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, and/or neurobiology. An ideal candidate would have significant experience conducting research on song birds or utilizing similar approaches in other systems. Additional advantageous skills would be handling and keeping birds in captivity, acoustic analysis, and/or field experience.

How to apply
The application must be submitted using Stockholm University’s recruitment system and consists of a cover letter, CV, research proposal, contact information for 2-3 references, along with some official documents. On October 15, the complete application details and link will be available at:

Click here for more information, or contact David Wheatcroft, david.wheatcroft(at)zoologi.su.se

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