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  • postdoc position in avian thermoregulation & acoustic communication- deadline 18 June 2023

    Mylene Mariette
    • Employer: Doñana Biological Station EBD-CSIC
      Location: Seville
      Country: Spain
      Last Date to Apply: No value
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    Fully-funded 2-year Post-doc position – starting Oct 2023 (applications close 18 June 2023)

    Avian thermoregulation & prenatal acoustic communication

    with Dr Mylene M Mariette, Doñana Biological Station - Spanish Research Council EBD-CSIC, Seville, Spain


    We are seeking a highly motivated Post-doc with a background in metabolism, avian physiology and/or bio-acoustics. The Post-doc position is part of a project on avian thermoregulation and prenatal acoustic communication, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, to Mylene Mariette and a team of international collaborators.

    We have discovered that incubating zebra finch parents warn their embryos about hot weather by uttering “heat-calls”, and that this acoustic signal adaptively prepares offspring for hot environments (e.g. Mariette & Buchanan 2016 Science; Udino et al. 2021 Proc Roy Soc; Pessato et al 2022 Sci Rep). The aim of this post-doc project is to explore how heat-call prevalence relates to thermoregulation strategies in the heat and reproductive investment.

    This position is for ~2 years (1st Oct 2023 to 1st Sept 2025), at the Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD) in Seville, Spain. The application deadline is 18 June 2023, for interviews at the end of June or until the position is filled.

    The Postdoc Project: Climate change is threatening biodiversity, but whether species may have the capacity to develop strategies to partly mitigate its impact is broadly unknown. Thermoregulation capacity in the heat is likely key, and yet much of the variation between species and individuals remains to be explained. We have recently found that zebra finches’ heat calls are produced through a special form of panting, called “vocal panting”, which brings thermoregulatory benefits to the emitter (Pessato et al 2020 Sci Rep). The postdoc fellow will work with a small team to understand the broad fitness consequences of vocal panting, and how it affects thermoregulation capacity and heat tolerance, behaviour, and reproductive output. The postdoc responsibilities will include carrying out and overseeing respirometry measurements, as well as bird capture, behavioural observations, breeding monitoring, playback experiments, in wild and captive birds, in Europe and Australia. In addition to acoustic analyses, the project has scope for phylogenetic and predictive population models, as well as collaborative work on existing physiological and acoustic data. Although the postdoc project has clear aims to meet the grant objectives, the research fellow will have the opportunity to develop some parts of the project over others, according to his/her own interests. For further description on the research group & recent relevant publications, please see: https://mylenemariette.wordpress.com/

    The Research Environment: The Research Fellow will be part of a small team, based at the Doñana Biological Station EBD-CSIC (http://www.ebd.csic.es/inicio) in Seville, and working with collaborators in Europe, Australia and South Africa. Seville is a beautiful and lively city in southern Spain, next to Doñana National Park. The EBD hosts over 40 researchers working in conservation, ecology and evolution, as well as many post-docs, PhD students and exchange students. The EBD also has strong research connections with the University of Seville and Pablo de Olavide University Sevilla. The EBD has excellent facilities and research support, as well as weekly seminars and activities, fostering a lively research culture.

    Eligibility and Selection criteria: The project would suit a highly enthusiastic, reliable and hard-working research fellow with strong interests in avian physiology, heat adaptation and/or bioacoustics. Essential requirements include strong analytical skills and the capacity to work with complex equipment; high competence in written and spoken English, for scientific and day to day communication; good attitude to learning; good problem-solving and organizational skills; adaptability and ability to work independently and as part of a team, including in remote fieldwork locations. Previous experience with the collection and analyses of metabolic and/or acoustic data will be strongly favoured. Knowledge of Spanish is not essential to start with, but will be a great advantage, particularly to handle administrative tasks, which will all be in Spanish, including for the formal recruitment procedure. The ability to work remotely (across continents) will be a plus, in addition to an interest in doing fieldwork abroad.

    Application process: Applications should include, in a single PDF file, in English: i) a statement of your interest in the project, ii) a detailed CV and iii) contact information for two or three referees. To apply, or for further information, do not hesitate to contact Mylene Mariette (m.mariette@deakin.edu.au).

    REFERENCES: Mariette M.M. & Buchanan K.L. (2016). Prenatal acoustic communication programs offspring for high ambient temperatures in a songbird. Science. 353: 812-814; Udino et al (2021). Prenatal acoustic programming of mitochondrial function for high temperatures in an arid-adapted bird. Proc Roy Soc B 288, 20211893; Pessato A., McKechnie A. E., Buchanan K. L., & Mariette, M. M. (2020). Vocal panting: a novel thermoregulatory mechanism for enhancing heat tolerance in a desert-adapted bird. Scientific Reports, 10(1). doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-75909-6. Pessato A., McKechnie A.E., & Mariette M.M. (2022). A prenatal acoustic signal of heat affects thermoregulation capacities at adulthood in an arid-adapted bird. Scientific Reports. 12(1) 5842.

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