School of Life Sciences PhD Studentship: Insect behaviour, life history and environmental change

University of Sussex - Department of Evolution, Behaviour and Environment, School of Life Sciences

A Ph.D. studentship (42 months) is available from September 2018 under the supervision of Dr Wiebke Schuett, Department of Evolution, Behaviour and Environment, School of Life Sciences.

Deadline: 6th January 2018

Environmental, including anthropogenic, change has vast consequences on individuals, population dynamics and communities. Behaviour is often the first response to such change. Thus, understanding individuals’ behavioural response to environmental change is important for identifying which individuals or species are likely to persist in or disappear from altered habitats. Individuals of many species consistently differ in their behaviour (i.e. show personality differences). Such personality differences are often closely linked to life-history, physiological and/or morphological traits, forming suits of correlated traits (i.e. pace-of-life syndromes, POLS). Unravelling how environmental conditions influence POLS structure would make an important contribution to understanding responses to and (ecological and evolutionary) consequences of environmental change.

A fully-funded Ph.D. studentship is offered in this research area. Topics that the successful candidate could pursue include the influence of environmental change (e.g. urbanization, climate change) on behaviour, and other POL traits, as well as their (co)variance. This might involve the evolution of personality differences, information use and decision-making under unpredictable environmental conditions, causes and consequences of POLS and impacts of environmental conditions on individuals, populations and communities. We offer the opportunity to work on insects, but work on other invertebrates might also be possible. Experimental work can be conducted in the field, in enclosures (preferably on ground beetles) and/or in the laboratory (several taxa).

Application Process:

Please submit a formal application using our online application system at, including a cover letter (headed with project title), a short potential project outline (ca. 300-500 words), CV (max 2 pages), BSc/MSc degree transcripts and certificates, IELTS certificate (if non-UK) and names of two academic referees. Due to funding restrictions this award is open to UK/EU applicants only.


Candidates must hold/expect to obtain minimum 2:1 in BSc Biology or relevant subject. An MSc degree will be advantageous. We expect a highly motivated, talented, well-organised and meticulous candidate with strong quantitative skills. The candidate will have background in Behavioural Ecology, Field Ecology, Conservation, Evolution and/or Experimental Ecology. Previous experience in collecting data in the field, working with insects, behavioural observations, physiological analyses, statistical modelling (preferentially in R) is advantageous. Candidates for whom English is not their first language will require an IELTS score of 6.5 overall, with not less than 6.0 in any section. A driving license is desirable.

Contact Anna Izykowska for application enquiries (

Contact Dr Wiebke Schuett for enquiries about the project (

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South East England