We are seeking to recruit a PhD student for the following project:

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) song ontogeny, evolution and vocal 

Male humpback whales sing a long and elaborate vocal display. Thousands of 
males can rapidly and synchronously change their population-specific song to a 
new version in as little as two months, a feat which is unparalleled in any 
other animal except humans. Despite our advances in understanding the cultural 
aspects of song, we have little understanding of song development at an 
individual level and how factors such as age may affect the cultural 
transmission of the song. Recent advances have enabled the age of humpback 
whales to be determined from skin samples that have been collected for genetic 
analyses (the Humpback Epigenetic Age Assay). Using acoustic and epigenetic 
data, this PhD project seeks to study how the age of males may govern changes 
in the song.

The student will be based at the University of St Andrews under the supervision 
of Dr Ellen Garland, and co-supervised by Dr Luke Rendell (St Andrews), in 
collaboration with Dr Claire Garrigue (IRD UMR ENTROPIE), Dr Emma Carroll (St 
Andrews & University of Auckland) and Dr Simon Jarmon (Curtin 
University/CSIRO). Candidates should have a strong background in behavioural 
ecology or evolutionary biology. Knowledge or experience in bioacoustics or 
laboratory genetic analysis is essential, and experience of both desirable. 
Candidates with a genetic background are encouraged to apply but should note 
the strong focus on acoustics, which will require substantial acoustic analysis 
to be undertaken. However, training in molecular or acoustic techniques will be 
tailored to the candidate’s experience. The student will be expected to 
participate in annual fieldwork lasting two to three months in semi-remote 
locations, along with visits to the epigenetic ageing facility. Previous field 
experience involving small boats, marine mammals, and remote locations would be 
advantageous. The candidate should have strong communication (oral and written) 
and interpersonal skills given the collaborative nature of the project and 
extended fieldwork. The ability to speak French would also be desirable (but 
not essential).

General requirements include a background in evolutionary and behavioural 
biology, and a BSc (Hons) or MSc degree (first class) in a relevant discipline. 
Students must attain a 2:1 or higher in order to be eligible for the 
studentship as this project is funded by the Royal Society. The funding 
includes a four-year studentship (fees and stipend) funded at Home (UK/EU) fee 
level. International students may apply but will be responsible for the 
difference in fees; a fee waiver scholarship may be available for outstanding 

For more information see: 
Applications close on 18 March 2018 and will need to be submitted online 
through the St Andrews system. Please include a cover letter, CV, 1-page 
project proposal, academic transcripts, writing sample and English language 
test (if required).

Please send any enquiries to Dr Ellen Garland at 
e...@st-andrews.ac.uk<mailto:e...@st-andrews.ac.uk> with the subject line: PhD 
studentship - ageing.

Kind regards,
Ellen C. Garland, Ph.D.
Royal Society University Research Fellow

Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU)
Centre for Social Learning & Cognitive Evolution (SLaCE)
Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD)

Postal Address:
Sir Harold Mitchell Building
School of Biology
University of St. Andrews
St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9TH, UK

Ph: +44 (0)7478-649964
Email: e...@st-andrews.ac.uk<mailto:e...@st-andrews.ac.uk>
Website: http://biology.st-andrews.ac.uk/contact/staffProfile.aspx?sunid=ecg5
SLaCE: https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/solace/
Twitter: @_SMRU_
The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland: No SC013532

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