MRes Studentship 18 Months

31 Jan 2018

Why do individuals vary in their cognitive abilities? EVOECOCOG, an ERC funded project, takes the disciplines of cognition and evolutionary biology into a natural setting to answer this question. 

It aims to do this by investigating a variety of proximate causes and population-level consequences of individual cognitive variaton using a great tit Parus major population. 

This MRes position will explore the potential trade-offs between traits involved in pre-copulatory and post-copulatory sexual selection and their relationships with mating success and cognitive ability. The student will perform laboratory analysis of sperm sampled from great tits in the breeding season to measure sperm quality and viability, and then relate this to mating success by performing paternity analysis using a mewly purchased state-of-the-art DNA sequencer. These measures will be compared to measures of signal quality and cognitive ability to detect potential trade-offs among these traits. 

The chosen study system, the great tit, Parus major, is on of the most widely used in Europe, and consists of 12 subpopulations across deciduous and conifer woodland fragments in Co. Cork, Ireland. A recent state of the art aviary is also available for experimental study at the School of BEES. 

This advert is for an 18 month MRes studentship. The successful student will be based in the UCC Ornithology lab at the School of BEES. They will join a research team led by Professor John L. Quin, consisting of 8 early career biologists working on this project, a Research Support Officer, and a range of other students and postdocs working on a variety of different projects in behavioural and applied ecology. The studentships will be co-supervised by Professor John Quinn and Dr Michael Reichert. 

Candidates should posses a 2.1 BSc (Hons) degree or higher in a relevant discipline (e.g. Ecology, Zoology, Evolution, Physiology, Psychology). Applicants must be self-motivated with good numerical, communication, organisational, experimental design and writing skills. Students with experience working under difficult conditions in the field or with an MSc are likely to have a strong advantage. A full, clean driving license will be important early in the MRes, and experience working with birds in captivity or in the wild would also be advantageous. A willingness to spend long periods of time in the field in spring, and to travel and work across different research sites is important. This position covers EU fee rates (€5750 p.a.; Non-EU members may apply but would need to cover the extra international fee rates themselves), plus a tax-free stiped of approx. €16,000 p.a.

Please direct informal enquiries to Professor John L. Quinn at


To apply please send, by email to, a CV, details of 2 referees, and an accompanying 1 page letter. The letter should outline your relevant experience, explaining why you want the studentship.

Dates: Application deadline is 28 Feb 2018. Interviews will be held in person or by Skype within 1 week. Start dates are 1 Apr 2018 or sooner!

University College Cork is one of Ireland's largest and most successful universities and the studentships will be based at the School of BEES. Currently there are 28 faculty, ca. 20 postdocs, and 35 PhD students across Zoology, Ecology, Plant Sciences and Geology. Cork is situated on the south coast of Ireland, 2.5 hours from Dublin, is served by an international airport, has a population of approx. 200,000 and is on the doorstep of some of the most beautiful coastline in Europe. 

UCC Ornithology Research Group

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UCC North Mall Campus, North Mall, Cork City,