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Study & Research Opportunities

Scholarships & Bursaries

Scholarships & Bursaries

Study opportunities at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town

PhD Project: Understanding the mechanisms promoting polymorphism in black sparrowhawks

We invite applications from previously disadvantaged South African citizens for the above full-time research scholarship at the FitzPatrick Institute, a world-renowned, national Centre of Excellence (CoE) in ornithological research with a strong emphasis on postgraduate studies. The successful applicant will focus on understanding how colour polymorphism is maintained within this raptor species.

The candidate will be supported and supervised by Drs Arjun Amar and Petra Sumasgutner.

Recent research on the colour polymorphism in the Black Sparrowhawk has revealed some interesting findings. Tate et al (2016, Journal of Avian Biology) found that pairs consisting of mixed-morph parents produced more young than parents consisting of the same morphs, and Sumasgutner et al (2016, Journal of Animal Ecology) found that offspring produced by mixed pairs had higher survival rates. Other research has provide a potential explanation for these results; Tate et al (2016, Ecology Letters) found that the foraging success of the two morphs differing depending on ambient light levels, possibly due to differential background crypsis of the two morphs. Thus, mixed pairs may complement each other by expanding the conditions (prey or habitat types) in which parents can successfully forage. This PhD would explore this complementarity hypothesis in more detail focusing on the likely the mechanisms involved. Specifically, the student will experimentally test whether detection of prey differed depending on the morph of the attacking hawk and the levels of ambient light or back ground colour. Secondly, the student will explore in more detail food provisioning to nest sites of like- and mixed- morph parents using nest site cameras. Thirdly, the student will explore the immune response from offspring belonging to different parent-morph combinations since the expression of melanin-based colour traits can be related to important physiological functions, such as immunity. Lastly the student will perform integrated population modelling on an existing long-term data set to test hypothesis for the coexistent of the two morphs in this population. FitzPatrick Institute, a world-renowned, national Centre of Excellence (CoE) in ornithological research with a strong emphasis on postgraduate studies.

Candidates should have an appropriate MSc degree with excellent records. Field experience involving data collection is essential as the candidate will be required to often organize and conduct field work independently. Experience in statistical data analysis and writing skills would be favoured to ensure an efficient start. The successful candidate will form part of a research team.

The value of the scholarship is R120 000 per year for up to three years for PhD. Renewal each year will be contingent on satisfactory academic progress. Adequate project running costs are available.

To apply, please send a CV (including your academic record & names and contact details of two referees) and a short motivation letter to Hilary Buchanan at hilary.buchanan@uct.ac.za (subject ‘your surname’ Black Sparrowhawk PhD). Informal enquires can be directed to Arjun Amar: arjundevamar@gmail.com

For more information on the FitzPatrick Institute visit www.fitzpatrick.uct.ac.za.

Closing date: 30th Nov 2016 (possible interviews to be held in early Dec 2016)

 

Moult patterns and carryover effects in albatrosses and petrels

We invite applications from previously disadvantaged South African citizens for the above full-time research scholarship at the FitzPatrick Institute, a world-renowned, national Centre of Excellence (CoE) in ornithological research with a strong emphasis on postgraduate studies. The successful applicant will focus on understanding how breeding performance interacts with the extent of moult in large procellariiform seabirds. The candidate will be supported and supervised by Prof. Peter Ryan.

Moult is one of the major annual constraints faced by birds, and large birds in particular struggle to accommodate moult in their annual cycle because the rate of feather growth scales only weakly with body size. This creates an evolutionary dilemma for large procellariiform seabirds such as albatrosses and giant petrels which either have to overlap moulting with breeding, potentially compromising their ability to breed successfully, or only replace a subset of feathers each year, potentially leading to an accumulation of old feathers. This conflict might lead to tradeoffs between breeding and moulting, which have been inferred for North Pacific albatrosses, but not fully explored in Southern Ocean species. In addition, most focus to date has been on primary moult patterns in these birds, but they have many more secondaries than primaries, and their strategies to replace their secondaries also warrant investigating. The successful candidate will use photographic records of moult status of breeding albatrosses and giant petrels from Marion and Gough Islands to address these questions.

Candidates should have an appropriate BSc Honours/MSc degree with excellent records. Field experience involving data collection is essential as the candidate will be required to often organize and conduct field work independently. Experience in statistical data analysis and writing skills would be favoured to ensure an efficient start. The successful candidate will form part of a research team.

The value of the scholarship is R90 000 per year for up to two years for an MSc, although the project should be completed in 18 months. Renewal for the second year will be contingent on satisfactory academic progress. Adequate project running costs are available.

To apply, please send a CV (including your academic record & names and contact details of two referees) and a short motivation letter to Hilary Buchanan at hilary.buchanan@uct.ac.za (subject ‘your surname’ [project name] MSc/PhD). Informal enquires can be directed to Peter Ryan: peter.ryan@uct.ac.za.

For more information on the FitzPatrick Institute visit www.fitzpatrick.uct.ac.za.

Closing date: 30 November 2016 (possible interviews to be held in early December)

 

Fellowships, scholarships & bursaries

For a comprehensive list of scholarships and bursaries available through UCT, please contact the Postgraduate Scholarships Office direct at pgfunding@uct.ac.za. The Coordinators of the various Research Programmes at the Institute can also be contacted for additional information.

Funding for publication and for rated researchers

There are avenues via which postgraduate students can obtain funding for publishing the results of their research. Please contact the Director of the Institute to find out more.

Other funding opportunities are through the University Research Committee (various deadlines) and through NRF Scholarships and Fellowships.