PhD title: Modelling adaptive parental care strategies in Arctic shorebirds

Supervisors and host laboratory:
– Supervisors: François-Xavier Dechaume-Moncharmont ( & Jérôme Moreau (
– Thesis advisors: Loic Bollache ( & Olivier Gilg (
– Laboratory: Lehna, UMR CNRS université Lyon 1, bât. Darwin C, campus de la Doua, Lyon, France
– Date of the offer: 3-year position, flexible from January 2022
– Funding: PhD grant from the ANR PACS 2022-2025
– Languages spoken in the lab: mostly French, English is welcome

Keywords: parental care, predation, nest thermoregulation, incubation, sandpiper, Calidris, Arctic fox, behavioural ecology, polar ecology, dynamic programming

Project description: Arctic ground-nesting birds are facing conflicting demands. They must maintain optimal incubating temperature for their eggs, which supposes the shortest possible absence from the nest (incubation recess), but they must also maintain their own reserves through repeated foraging trips, which can signal their presence to a predator and leaves their eggs without protection. The optimal recess strategy is expected to vary dynamically on both short (within-day, as a function of predator activity hours, local temperature, food availability) and long (across-day within season as a function of the maturation stage of the embryo, annual phenology of resources, etc) terms. Capitalizing on long-term field data (Meyer et al. 2020, 2021), our aim is to model the optimal recess routines under the triple trade-off between adult reserve maintenance, nest thermoregulation and nest predation. This project is mostly theoretical (lab based) but can also include field work in the Arctic (depending on opportunities and personal skills of the applicant).

Profile: We are looking for a behavioural ecologist deeply interesting in modelling (mathematical and/or computational evolution, dynamic programming). Advanced knowledge in at least one programming language (for instance R, python, C) is requested.

Application: Applicants should send an application letter, a CV (resume), an extended list of credits, marks and ranking from bachelor´s and master’s study, a copy of your master thesis, the name and contact of at least two scientists for professional recommendations. For further information about the position, do not hesitate to contact the supervisors.

Lab publications or recommended review on the subject:
– Meyer N, Bollache L, Dechaume-Moncharmont F-X, et al. (2020) Nest attentiveness drives nest predation in arctic sandpipers. Oikos
– Meyer N, Bollache L, Galipaud M, Moreau J, Dechaume-Moncharmont F-X, et al. (2021) Behavioural responses of breeding arctic sandpipers to ground-surface temperature and primary productivity. Science of The Total Environment
– Chevalier L, Labonne J, Galipaud M, Dechaume-Moncharmont F-X (2020) Fluctuating dynamics of mate availability promote the evolution of flexible choosiness in both sexes. American Naturalist
– Higginson AD, Fawcett TW, Trimmer PC, McNamara JM, Houston AI (2012) Generalized optimal risk allocation: foraging and antipredator behavior in a fluctuating environment. American Naturalist

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