Post-doctoral Research Associate: Group dynamics, selection and population demography in cooperative mammals University of Cambridge, Department of Zoology United Kingdom

Post-doctoral Research Associate: Group dynamics, selection and population demography in cooperative mammals


A post-doctoral associate position for an evolutionary ecologist/population biologist based in the Department of Zoology in central Cambridge on Downing Street, and supported by a European Research Council grant is available from 1 July 2018, for up to sixty months, to work with Professor Tim Clutton-Brock FRS on group and population dynamics and their consequences for selection and population regulation in cooperative mammals.


The principal objectives of the project are to investigate:

  • the social and ecological constraints on group establishment and persistence and the extent and causes of variation in productivity and persistence between groups;

  • the effects of the age and kinship composition of groups on the development, survival and breeding success of their members;

  • the extent to which the fitness of individuals (and its components) depends on their own characteristics versus the characteristics of their groups, leading to assessment of the relative strength of selection operating between individuals and groups;

  • the influence of group dynamics and population density on population demography and the stability of local populations;

  • the effects of fluctuations in rainfall and temperature and of medium-term changes in climate on individual development and reproductive success and their consequences for the dynamics of groups and local populations;

  • the reasons why cooperative breeding in mammals is associated with arid, unpredictable habitats.


The successful candidate will have a PhD in a relevant area (population biology, evolutionary ecology or behavioural ecology) and should to have prior experience of working on individual-based datasets as well as of demographic and evolutionary modelling. They should be prepared to spend up to two months a year at our field site in the Northern Cape, South Africa.


Duties and responsibilities:

  • the analysis of variation in individual development, hormonal status, behaviour, reproductive success and survival between groups;

  • the analysis of differences in persistence and productivity between groups;

  • the interaction between group size and group composition and the effects of variation in rainfall and temperature on breeding success and survival in individuals on group persistence and productivity;

  • modelling the effects of group dynamics on selection and demography;

  • liaison with other members of an interdisciplinary team working on related projects on the same populations, including Professor A Gardner (St Andrews), Professor J Tung (Duke), Professors M Manser and L Keller (Zurich), Professors N Bennett and A Ganswindt (Pretoria) and Professor A Widdig (Leipzig).


Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for up to 60 months.


To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply' button below. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.


Please quote reference PF14751 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.


The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.


The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.


Further information

  • Futher Information - PDRA - PF14751

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