Biological Sciences: Fully Funded PHD Scholarship: Baboon Sociality and Health
Many animals form stable social relationships between specific individuals. These relationships are extremely beneficial but also come with costs. For example, trade-offs exists with respect to stress (social buffering versus social stress) and transmission of health (beneficial gut microbiota) and disease (parasites, viruses) but are little understood because of the challenges of collecting appropriate data in the wild. To understand these trade-offs, this interdisciplinary PhD will use and extend a worldwide unique data set on wild baboon social behaviour and health. Sociality is studied in unprecedented detail, with simultaneous data for 16 individuals. GPS and acceleration data from bespoke tracking collars provide information on behaviour and social interactions/proximity every second over several months. Health information comes from >350 urine and >600 faecal samples collected in the field. These samples are matched to individuals and time periods, affording non-invasive investigation of reproductive state, stress physiology, immune function, energy and metabolic status, parasite load, and microbiome composition. Combining these data on baboon sociality and health therefore provides rare opportunity to investigate how and why social relationships evolve, and their consequences for individuals' health. The ideal candidate will have a masters level degree, research interests and expertise in animal behaviour and physiology, and data analysis and laboratory skills relevant to the project. Please get in touch for enquiries or more details.