Project properties

Title Parallel evolution in brain anatomy: do sympatric species evolve together in response to predation?
Group Behavioural Ecology
Project type thesis
Credits 24-36
Supervisor(s) Catarina Vila Pouca
Examiner(s) Alexander Kotrschal
Contact info
Begin date 2022/05/04
End date 2022/12/04
Description Animals need cognitive abilities to estimate predation risk and adjust behaviour accordingly. As cognition is governed by brain anatomy, predation pressure is likely linked to brain evolution.
Despite a number of studies now having investigated the role of predation in the evolution of brain anatomy, little consensus has been obtained – with results showing positive, negative, and no change in relative brain size. These studies, however, are limited in that they often use just a small number of sites and one species.
Our ongoing project aims to clarify how predation may impact the evolution of brain anatomy, by sampling two sympatric species of fish from 20 sites across Trinidad, varying in predation risk.
We are looking for a highly motivated, independent student in behavioural ecology/biology to join us in this project (long-term internship or thesis only). This project offers the opportunity to gain experience in animal husbandry, laboratory techniques such as fine-scale dissection of fish brains, learning to use scientific software (e.g. ImageJ), and further develop research skills in experimental design, data collection, and data analysis.
Used skills Laboratory dissections; ImageJ; data management; R, statistical analysis, question formulation, hypothesis testing.
Candidates must be able to demonstrate enthusiasm for biological research and ability to engage in independent work. The working language will be English.
Requirements Motivation to work on a primarily laboratory-based project. Interest in evolutionary and behavioural ecology.