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  3. PhD position Phenotypic plasticity and species divergence (1.0 FTE)

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PhD position Phenotypic plasticity and species divergence (1.0 FTE)

The Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES) offers an NWO-funded PhD position for a project on the role of phenotypic plasticity in speciation, using African cichlid fish as a model system.

Phenotypic plasticity is a key determinant of organismal performan

11 maanden geleden


Broerstraat, Groningen, Groningen
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2840 - € 2840 per maand


The Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES) offers an NWO-funded PhD position for a project on the role of phenotypic plasticity in speciation, using African cichlid fish as a model system.

Phenotypic plasticity is a key determinant of organismal performance, allowing rapid adjustment to environmental variation. In this project, we aim to investigate plasticity’s role in species divergence. On the one hand, plasticity may promote evolutionary differentiation by facilitating range expansion. On the other hand, plastic responses will weaken selection for genetic change, hampering adaptive evolution.

We study the role of visual plasticity in the evolution of cichlid fish species diversity. Variation in colour vision, among individuals, populations and species, is determined by both genetic factors and phenotypic plasticity. Since visually mediated behaviours influence both mating behaviour and ecological performance in cichlids, plasticity in colour vision could be important in divergent evolution. The PhD student will conduct experiments and analyses addressing the consequences of visual plasticity for both 1) macro-evolutionary processes and 2) individual behaviour and fitness. Approaches include behavioural experiments, molecular analysis of visual pigments (sequencing, qPCR, HPLC) and phylogenetic comparative analyses.


We are looking for an enthusiastic and talented PhD candidate with a master's degree (or equivalent) in Biology, preferably with a strong interest in behavioural ecology, evolution and biodiversity. The ideal candidate has experience with behavioural observation, animal handling and molecular genetics techniques. We also ask for a collaborative mindset, and excellent communication and writing skills (also in English). Other helpful competences include statistical proficiency (e.g. in the R software environment), possession of a driving licence, and a license to perform animal experiments (art. 9 Wet op de dierproeven (the Dutch Experiments on Animal Act)) or the willingness to obtain these.


The University of Groningen offers, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, a salary of € 2,222 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 2,840 gross per month in the fourth and final year, based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE), excluding a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and a 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance. The position is limited to a period of 4 years. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering.
The successful candidate will first be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected.

Preferred start date is in May 2018.

The applications can be submitted until 2 April 2018 23:59 h / before 3 April 2018 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Application should include:
• letter of motivation
• curriculum vitae
• a one-page statement of research interests
• contact details for two professional references
• transcripts from your bachelor’s and master’s degree.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

Dr Martine Maan
+31 50 3632196,


Faculty of Science and Engineering Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative institution of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 30,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research universities in Europe, the University of Groningen has joined forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global centre of knowledge.

Within the Faculty of Science and Engineering of the University of Groningen, a 4-year PhD position is available at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES).

At GELIFES we study fundamental biological processes, ranging from neuroscience and behaviour to evolutionary ecology and biodiversity dynamics. We teach at both graduate and undergraduate levels, actively engage in public outreach and aim to contribute to the solution of societal problems (e.g. in health and disease, animal welfare, conservation).

The project is a collaboration between Dr Martine Maan, Prof dr Rampal Etienne and Dr Louis van der Zande. The PhD student will join a lively and international team of researchers and (PhD) students working on (cichlid) behavioural ecology and evolution, supported by laboratory technicians and animal caretakers.