This novel project will investigate the effects of parental biological age on offspring health and fitness in the Seychelles warbler.
Individual variation in ageing (the deterioration of physiological function and performance in later life) occurs within most animal populations. Importantly, this ageing may also impact the health and quality of offspring produced by parents of different ages (e.g., the Lansing effect). However, parental biological age at conception (the age an individual’s functionality reflects, not their chronological age), should be used to investigate such intergenerational effects – a point that has been overlooked in studies so far.
Our long-term monitoring of an isolated island population of Seychelles warblers, where all individuals, and their offspring, are measured and sampled throughout their lives, provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of parental ageing without the confounding issues of unnatural conditions or medical interventions. We already have samples and health, reproduction and survival data on 1000’s individuals. Previous work confirms that individual variation in ageing occurs in this population and that parental chronological age impacts offspring fitness. Importantly, a pilot study shows that epigenetic clocks that reflect biological age in the warbler can be generated from measures of DNA methylation. This population, therefore, provides the resources for an excellent, ground-breaking study.
This PhD offers an exceptional training opportunity, working on cutting-edge conceptual questions within a world-class research environment. You will gain a wide range of research skills including epigenomic sequencing, bioinformatics, relational database use, and statistical modelling. There will also be a fieldwork component. You will also receive excellent general training from the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership. Based at UEA, supervised by David Richardson, Dave Monk and Martin Taylor (UEA), and Hannah Dugdale (Groningen), in collaboration with Seychelles Warbler Research Project.
The Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) is open to the UK and international candidates for entry in October 2022 and offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year PhD research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship placement (PIPS) during their study. The placement offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.
This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NRPDTP programme. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on Tuesday 25th January, Wednesday 26th January and Thursday 27th January 2022.
You can visit the Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership pages for further information on eligibility and the application process.
Our partners value diverse and inclusive work environments that are positive and supportive. Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.