MSc Studentship, Department of Zoology, Ecology & Plant Science

MSc Studentship, Department of Zoology, Ecology & Plant Science

Genetic study of bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon Estuary SAC

Applications are invited for a 1 year research MSc studentship in the use of molecular genetics in order to study the population organisation of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in a coastal MPA in western Ireland. 

The candidate will be based in the Department of Zoology, Ecology and Plant Science, University College Cork and will be co-supervised by Prof. Tom Cross, Dr Simon Ingram and Dr Emer Rogan.

The MSc project is part of a Science Foundation Ireland project “An investigation into the population structure and social and reproductive behaviour of bottlenose dolphins in the coastal waters of western Ireland”.  The work will involve boat-based field work and lab work, including participation in sample collection (biopsy sampling) and photo-identification.  Lab work will involve microsatellite and mtDNA analysis and gender determination.  The results will be used to examine social structure and individual relatedness of bottlenose dolphins using the Shannon Estuary SAC.

Applicants should have a minimum qualification of a BSc 2.1H (Hons) degree or equivalent. A good knowledge of genetic techniques and biostatistics is advantageous, but candidates from ecology with a strong background in genetics will also be considered. Our ideal candidate is highly motivated, can work in a team, participate in boat-based fieldwork, and is prepared to work long days.  The candidate must also be prepared to work to tight deadlines.

We have been conducting boat-based photo-identification surveys of bottlenose dolphins on the west coast of Ireland since 1996.  The majority of this work has focused on the resident community of dolphins using the outer Shannon Estuary, and we have information on long-term affiliations and habitat use.  The lab is equipped for PCR and DNA sequencing and VNTR screening (Licor automated sequencers) Microsatellite PCR primers developed by us for common and striped dolphins also work with bottlenose dolphins.

The annual salary of the MSc position is 12,000€/yr and fees (EU level) will be paid.  Candidates should submit their application with references via e-mail to, attaching scanned documentation on education, exams (including major grades) and relevant experience. The applicants should also provide a short cover letter (max 500 words) outlining the reasons why he or she is particularly suited for the position.

Informal enquiries can be made by contacting Dr Simon Ingram [] or Dr Emer Rogan []

Application deadline is 21st March 2008 and we aim for rapid employment.

University College Cork is an Equal Opportunities Employer

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