Offres de Stage au CIE : Centre d’Ecologie Integrative, Deakin University, Australie.
Un bon niveau d’anglais est necessaire.

7 internships (6 months internship: Master 2) are available in John Endler Group (Deakin university, Australia). It is required to have a good English level and statistical skills.
• 1 project on gene expression
• 1 project on sensory ecology (colour vision)
• 5 projects on behavioural ecology (mate choice)

IS THERE A CIRCADIAN RHYTHM TO VISUAL OPSIN EXPRESSION IN GUPPIES AND DOES THIS COINCIDE WITH SPECIFIC MATE CHOICE BEHAVIOURS?

This project will explore diurnal changes in the visual system of guppies (Poecilia reticulata), by investigating the expression levels of nine guppy opsin genes throughout different times of day. Opsins are light sensitive proteins found in the photoreceptor cells of the retina. As such, opsins function at the interface between the outside light environment and the visual system. In some species, opsin expression levels change throughout the day. In guppies, any diurnal opsin expression changes may influence colour-based behavioural decisions, such as foraging or mate-choice. First, this project will identify any changes in opsin expression over diurnal time. Second, it will explore whether any reported opsin expression changes could have implications for a guppy’s visual perception and mate-choice behaviours.

SUPERVISOR: Dr. Alexandrea Kranz & Dr. Gemma Cole & Prof. John Endler
Contact: [email protected]
RELEVANT LITERATURE: Johnson A. M, Stanis S, Fuller R. C. (2013) Diurnal lighting patterns and habitat alter opsin expression and colour preferences in a killifish. Proc Biol Sci. 280(1763): 20130796
TECHNIQUES INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT: Fish rearing and handling; eye dissections; molecular techniques (including RNA extraction, cDNA synthesis and digital PCR).
REQUIRED SKILLS AND ABILITIES: Comfortable with fish dissections and early/late hours. English speaking is essential.

LINK BETWEEN PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES AND PERCEIVED DIFFERENCES OF COLOURS

Colours are used in various inter-individual relationships: for species recognition, as an aposematic signal, for camouflage, and in mate choice. With our human eyes and cognition, we can only get a biased idea of the colours in the world. To better understand the evolution of colour and their functions it is essential to assess animal colour vision, colour discrimination and colour perception.
Thanks to the Just Noticeable Distance model, allowing determination of colour discrimination thresholds, we can get a good idea of animal colour discrimination. However to determine perceptual colour space, influenced by neural processes, accurate behavioural experiments are necessary. Behavioural experiments will allow us to determine the correlation between the model of colour discrimination and the actual colour perception.

SUPERVISOR: Adelaide Sibeaux (PhD Candidate), Dr.Gemma Cole & Prof.John Endler
Contact: [email protected], Phone: +61 434 094 164
RELEVANT LITERATURE: Kemp, D. J., Herberstein, M. E., Fleishman, L. J., Endler, J. A., Bennett, A. T. D., Dyer, A. G., et al. (2015). An Integrative Framework for the Appraisal of Coloration in Nature. American Naturalist, 185(6), 705-724.
Fleishman, L. J., Perez, C. W., Yeo, A. I., Cummings, K. J., Dick, S., & Almonte, E. (2016). Perceptual distance between colored stimuli in the lizard Anolis sagrei: comparing visual system models to empirical results. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 70(4), 541-555.
TECHNIQUES INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT: Radiance/Irradiance /Reflectance measurement, Behavioural and learning experiments, Animals maintenance, Statistics.
REQUIRED SKILLS AND ABILITIES: English, Statistics (R or Matlab), Conscientious, Interest for sensory ecology.

CHARACTERIZATION OF VOCALIZATION IN SEXUAL DISPLAYS OF GREAT BOWERBIRDS

Male Great Bowerbirds construct and decorate a large (2.5m long) bower, which is used to attract females and gain mates. Males with better bowers, with more and better visual effects, gain more mates (Doerr 2010; Madden 2002). Great Bowerbirds emit vocalizations during displays (when a female is at the bower) and also sing advertisement songs while sitting on a perch above the bower. To date, the acoustic displays of great bowerbirds have not been studied. This project aims to test whether there are differences in vocalization characteristics between successful and non-successful males (using our database of 2014, and possibly 2015). In order to achieve this, the student will determine repertoire, and notes properties (frequency, power, etc.) of display vocalizations of Great Bowerbirds.

SUPERVISOR: Aída Rodrigues (PhD Candidate), Prof. John Endler
Contact: [email protected] Phone: +61 426700199
RELEVANT LITERATURE: Doerr NR (2010). Decoration supplementation and male–male competition in the Great Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus nuchalis): a test of the social control hypothesis. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 64:1887–1896.
Madden, J. R. (2002). Bower decorations attract females but provoke other male spotted bowerbirds: bower-owners resolve this trade-off. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. Biological Sciences 269, 1347–1351
TECHNIQUES INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT: Edition of acoustic files, bioacoustics analysis
REQUIRED SKILLS AND ABILITIES: English, experience with Raven (desirable), experience with Adobe Audition or Audacity (desirable), R programming (desirable). Basic training in the acoustics software will be provided.

MOTION CHARACTERIZATION IN SEXUAL DISPLAY OF GREAT BOWERBIRDS

Male Great Bowerbirds construct and decorate a large (2.5m long) bower, which is used to attract females and gain mates. Males with better bowers, with more and better visual effects, gain more mates (Doerr 2010; Madden 2002). However, males have a complexity of additional traits, involved in their displays besides the bower, such as vocal and body motion aspects, which could also influence female choice. This project aims to test whether there are differences in motion sequence/characteristics between successful and non-successful males. The intern will characterize display-motions by identifying types and sequences of motion (e.g. steps, jumps, bobs, wing-flaps, nuchal crest display, tossing; as well as aspects of motion like repetition, duration, bower side, female field of view).

SUPERVISOR: Aída Rodrigues (PhD Candidate), Prof. John Endler
Contact: [email protected] Phone: +61 426700199
RELEVANT LITERATURE: Dalziell et al (2013). Dance Choreography Is Coordinated with Song Repertoire in a Complex Avian Display. Current Biology 23, 1132–1135.
Doerr NR (2010). Decoration supplementation and male–male competition in the Great Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus nuchalis): a test of the social control hypothesis. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 64:1887–1896.
Madden, J. R. (2002). Bower decorations attract females but provoke other male spotted bowerbirds: bower-owners resolve this trade-off. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. Biological Sciences 269, 1347–1351
TECHNIQUES INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT: Video transcription of sexual displays by males of great bowerbirds
REQUIRED SKILLS AND ABILITIES: English, R programming (desirable)

DO GUPPY COURTSHIP DISPLAYS REFLECT AN INDIVIDUAL’S FITNESS?

Many animals use both movement and colour patterns to their advantage to attract a mate. Male guppies (Poecilia reticulata) use a sigmoid display where they ‘dance’ in front of females. This behaviour is thought to increase the attractiveness of the individual’s colour pattern but may also be used to demonstrate the fitness of the male. This project will explore the purpose of these courtship displays by manipulating the effect the environmental parameters that either increase or decrease an animals’ potential ability to perform these displays, we can achieve this by manipulating swimming speeds in male siblings prior to courtship opportunities. This will be a step forward in understanding whether a male’s sigmoid display is an honest signal of male health, uncoupled from a male’s colour patterns.

SUPERVISOR: Dr. Alexandrea Kranz & Dr. Gemma Cole & Prof. John Endler
Contact: [email protected]
RELEVANT LITERATURE: Houde A. E. (1997) Sex, colour and mate choice in guppies. Princeton University Press
TECHNIQUES INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT: Fish rearing and handling and behavioural observations.
REQUIRED SKILLS AND ABILITIES: Comfortable with early/late hours. English speaking is essential.

DO FEMALES PREFER THE MOST CONTRASTING COLOURED MALE WHEN GIVEN A CHOICE?

Variability in the light environment within a habitat can influence the way individuals are perceived. This is particularly true of species that use colour signals to communicate and live in environments where background colour might change the way an individual looks at any one time. This is important because colour based mate choice may be influenced differently in different environments. Female guppies, Poecilia reticulata, use visually based colour and behaviour cues to choose their mates. By manipulating the background of sibling males (who have the same colour pattern) we can alter their perceived conspicuousness by females to identify the effects of habitat variability on female mate choice. This will help to untangle the effect of environment on colour based sexual signals.

SUPERVISOR: Dr. Gemma Cole & Dr. Xandy Kranz & Prof. John Endler
Contact: [email protected], Phone: +61 3 52272157
RELEVANT LITERATURE: Cole, G.L. & Endler, J.A. 2015. Variable environmental effects on a multicomponent sexually selected trait. The American Naturalist. 185: 452-468.
Fuller, R.C. 2002. Lighting environment predicts the relative abundance of male colour morphs in bluefin killifish (Lucania goodei) populations. Proceedings of the Royal Society: B. 269: 1457–1465.
TECHNIQUES INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT: Behavioural trials, photography, reflectance measurement, colour pattern analysis, fish husbandry
REQUIRED SKILLS AND ABILITIES: English, basic, interest in evolutionary ecology, experience with fish (desirable), R programming (desirable)

DO MALES ADJUST THEIR COURTSHIP BEHAVIOUR ACCORDING TO HOW ATTRACTIVE THEY ARE?

Male guppies (Poecilia reticulata) court females using a sigmoid display where they ‘dance’ in front of the females. This behaviour is thought to draw as much attention to their beautiful colour pattern as possible. Males vary greatly in their colour pattern and differ in how conspicuous their colour pattern is in any given light environment where light environment is known to alter the perception of colour. We know that males are able to use feedback from females to determine how attractive their colour pattern is but does this feedback also change courtship behaviour? Do males court more when they are in an environment that increases their attractiveness and how does this behaviour change when they are in an environment that makes them less attractive?

SUPERVISOR: Dr. Gemma Cole & Dr. Xandy Kranz & Prof. John Endler
Contact: [email protected], Phone: +61 3 52272157
RELEVANT LITERATURE: Cole, G.L. & Endler, J.A. 2015. Variable environmental effects on a multicomponent sexually selected trait. The American Naturalist. 185: 452-468.
Fuller, R.C. 2002. Lighting environment predicts the relative abundance of male colour morphs in bluefin killifish (Lucania goodei) populations. Proceedings of the Royal Society: B. 269: 1457–1465.
Gross, M.R., Young Suk, H. & Robertson, C.T. 2007. Courtship and genetic quality: asymmetric males show their best side. Proceedings of the Royal Society: B. 274: 2115–2122.
TECHNIQUES INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT: Behavioural trials, photography, reflectance measurement, colour pattern analysis, fish husbandry
REQUIRED SKILLS AND ABILITIES: English, basic, interest in evolutionary ecology, experience with fish (desirable), R programming (desirable)

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