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PhD Position - Evolution of Social Isolation

Hiring Organization:
University of Exeter

Date Posted:
2018-11-23

Position Description:
The evolution of social isolation: Pathology, competitive exclusion or adaptation?

Project website: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/award/?id=3317

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP). The GW4+ DTP consists of the Great Western Four alliance of the University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University and the University of Exeter plus five Research Organisation partners: British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. The partnership aims to provide a broad training in earth and environmental sciences, designed to train tomorrow?s leaders in earth and environmental science. For further details about the programme please see http://nercgw4plus.ac.uk/

Project Details:
Individuals who are well integrated into society have greater access to resources and tend to live longer. Why some individuals are socially isolated is therefore puzzling from an evolutionary perspective. Studies of humans and other group-living animals have documented individuals that are very socially isolated compared to other members of their population. Isolated individuals may be pushed to the periphery of their social networks by extrinsic factors, such as competitive exclusion. However, social isolation could also be a viable alternative evolutionary strategy whose benefits arise in certain contexts, such as during spikes in within-group competition levels, or in association with particular life-stages. These contexts may be common or severe enough to drive selection but not common enough to be detected by most studies, which tend to be relatively short-term and focused on relatively well integrated individuals. This project aims to test hypotheses on the potential benefits of social isolation, and to answer outstanding questions regarding the evolution and persistence of isolated individuals. This project will combine theoretical models with field-based empirical data on the health, longevity, reproductive output, and social behaviours of a naturalistic population of rhesus macaque monkeys (Macaca mulatta).

Qualifications/Experience:
Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award but no stipend. Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

Salary/funding:
An index-linked stipend for 3.5 years (currently £14,777 p.a. for 2018/19);
Payment of university tuition fees;
A research budget of £11,000 for an international conference, lab, field and research expenses;
A training budget of £4,000 for specialist training courses and expenses.

Application Deadline:
January 7, 2019

Contact Information:
Lauren Brent, PhD
Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour
Exeter
United Kingdom

Website:
http://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/award/?id=3317

E-mail Address:
l.j.n.brent@exeter.ac.uk

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