Postdoctoral Research Position

Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Radolfzell

Developmental and Evolutionary Biology & Genetics Behavioral Sciences Microbiology & Ecology

(Job code Rado 03/2017)

Type of Job

Young Researchers

Postdoctoral Research Position

Job offer from August 29, 2017

We invite applications for a postdoctoral position to join an exciting new research group studying the ecology and evolution of animal culture, based at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, in Radolfzell, Germany. The postdoc is available initially for 2 years, but can be extended contingent on progress, and will start in early 2018.

The research

Traditional views of Darwinian evolution focus on selection acting on genetically underpinned variation as a means of adaptation. However this may neglect the potential contribution of the over-generation transmission of information (cultural inheritance) as a source of locally adaptive behaviour - this might be particularly important in long-lived species and when facing novel or changing environments.

For example, the capacity for innovation, social learning and cultural inheritance is thought to be vitally important in the success of humans as a species, facilitating our colonization of almost every terrestrial habitat on Earth. But has the cultural transmission and inheritance of behaviour been similarly important in the success of some other species? We investigate these questions using a combination of laboratory experiments and field studies in birds, utilizing state-of-the-art automated tracking technologies and analytical techniques.

Your tasks

The postdoctoral researcher will be part of a team working in two avian systems: firstly laboratory experiments of cultural evolution will test the link between cognition, social structure and emergent cultural phenomenon in captive birds. Secondly, wild fieldwork will be conducted on urban-living Sulphur-crested cockatoos (Cacatua galerita), using a combination of citizen-science, GPS tracking, field observation and experiments. This will test socio-cognitive mechanisms for urban adaptation, and identify the form and patterning of naturally occurring cultural behaviours. The postdoc will work alongside graduate students and research assistants to develop these systems, but will also have the opportunity to focus on a specific area of interest within the larger project. The position will include opportunities for laboratory and field-based work in Radolfzell, and fieldwork in Australia.

Your profile

Suitable applicants should have should have a PhD in a related area. Candidates will ideally have experience either undertaking independent fieldwork or running laboratory experiments, and will have demonstrated analytical skills and evidence of research output. High self-motivation and the ability to work both in a team and independently are also important. Finally, candidates with experience in programming and with proficiency in R are particularly encouraged.

The working language in the group is English, and candidates should have proficiency in both written and spoken English. No German language skills are required.

Our offer

The lab is based at the world-leading Max Planck for Ornithology (MPIO), in Radolfzell, Germany. The MPIO is an internationally renowned research institution with more than 200 employees working in four departments and across 10 research groups. The postdoc will also have the opportunity to interact with collaborators at the University of Konstanz, the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, and the Australian Museum.

The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals. Furthermore, the Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

Your application

Interested applicants should send a cover letter detailing their research interests, a CV, and the name and contact details for at least one referee compiled in one PDF file to Dr. Lucy Aplin at . Applications will be received until 6 October 2017, with interviews conducted from October-November 2017. The position will ideally start in January 2018, however a flexible start date is possible if needed.                         

Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie
Vogelwarte Radolfzell
Am Obstberg 1
78315 Radolfzell                                  

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