Department of Behavioural Ecology

Evolution in Africa Everyday!

PhD position in NCN project in our department

PhD position is offered in the project „Linking immunogenetic variation, microbiome and personality” funded by National Science Centre.

Guppies - model species of the project
Guppies - model species of the project

The project will investigate the effect of microbiome on fitness via behaviour and the role of immune system in shaping those associations. Causal relations between host microbiome and stable animal behaviours, called personalities, will be explored using microbiome transfer form hosts differing in personality levels. The project will also investigate the effect of MHC genotype on personality via microbiome, as the immune system is one of the candidate factors for modulating microbiome. The correlational part of the project will allow to asses if the possible effect has ecological relevance. The project will be performed using laboratory descendants of wild guppies, whose personality trait, boldness, has been previously shown to affect male fitness.

Requirements: master degree in biology, good English.

Salary: the NCN stipend is 5 000 PLN/month for 3 years, starting from October 2022

How to apply: candidates should sent their CV and motivation letter or any questions about further details to the PI, dr Magdalena Herdegen-Radwan, email:

Who we are?

We are research group at the Faculty of Biology of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland established by Tomasz Osiejuk and Piotr Tryjanowski (now in Institute of Zoology, University of Life Sciences, Poznań) on 1st December 2004.

Research in our lab focuses on the behavioural ecology and animal communication in particular. The most significant topics of our previous studies involved individual recognition, territorial defence, mechanisms maintaining honesty of acoustic signals, links between signals' structure and functional significance, and geographic variation in signals.

We focus heavily on birds' vocalizations but we do not hesitate to expand to other taxa and communication channels. For example, some of the current projects concern also evolution of behavioural syndromes in guppies and signal perception in humans. We are also interested in using acoustic animal signals while studing ecology and biology conservation.

Mountain rainy forest in Cameroon - one of the places we do research
Mountain rainy forest in Cameroon - one of the places we do research

Current projects in brief: what, where and why

Most of our projects have strong field work component. We think that observing naturally behaving animals in their environments is often a key for understaning functions and evolution of behaviour. We work on several species models around the World. In Europe, we work - among other species - on the Corncrake and Emberiza buntings. These studies address such issues as territory defence (individual recognition, conflict resolution, costs maintaining signal honesty) as well as spatial signal variation at different scales, or use of individual recognition for conservation purposes.

In recent years, more and more attention is devoted to avian research in tropics. We conduct research on duetting species inhabiting mountain rainy forest of Cameroon (Chubb's cisticola, Yellow-breasted boubou and Bangwa warbler). Cameroon and Mozambique are also our testing ground for research on bioacoustics assessement of avian diversity. Recently, we started project on Turtur doves species which is conducted in several subsaharian countries in Africa (Nigeria, Mozambique, Ghana, Uganda).

The multimodal communication (acoustic and visual) is studied with use of two model bird species: magpie lark in Australia and starling in Europe. The only animal model we currently study in lab is a guppy. This fish is a very useful model for studying effects of induced mutations and inbreeding on behavioural traits and the role of associative learning in originating mating preferences.

New (2022) papers from our lab:

[12] Wheeldon A, Kwiatkowska K, Szymański P, Osiejuk TS () Male and female songs propagation in a duetting tropical bird species in its preferred and secondary habitat. Accepted... more information soon.

[11] Sideleau B, Staniewicz A, Syah M, Shaney KJ (2022) An analysis of tomistoma (Tomistoma schlegelii) attacks on humans. Marine and Freshwater Research DOI: 10.17071/MF22015

[10] Mahamoud-Issa M, Sikora B, Rusiecki S, Osiejuk, TS (2022) The Yellow-breasted Barbet (Trachyphonus margaritatus) introduces vocal duets and choruses with a specific multimodal signal during territorial advertisement. Journal of Ornithology DOI: 10.1007/s10336-022-02016-w

[9] Ręk P, Magrath RD (2022) Reality and illusion: the assessment of angular separation of multi-modal signallers in a duetting bird. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 289: 20220680. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2022.0680

[8] Ręk P, Magrath RD (2022) Display structure size affects the production of and response to multimodal duets in magpie-larks. Animal Behaviour 187:137-146. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2022.03.005

[7] Rosin ZM, Pärt T, Low M, Kotowska D, Tobolka, Szymański P, Hiron M (2022) Village modernization and reduced abundance of farmland birds: Why compensation for lost nesting sites may not be enough. Conservation Letters e12879 DOI: 10.1111/conl.1289

[6] Budka M, Jobda M, Szałański P, Piórkowski H. (2022) Acoustic approach as an alternative to human-based survey in bird biodiversity monitoring in agricultural meadows. PLoS ONE 17(4): e0266557. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0266557

[5] Herdegen-Radwan M. (2022) Can female guppies learn to like male colours? A test of the role of associative learning in originating sexual preferences. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B 289: 20220212. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2022.0212

[4] Linhart P, Mahamoud-Issa M, Stowell D, Blumstein DT. (2022) The potential for acoustic individual identification in mammals. Mammalian Biology. DOI: 10.1007/s42991-021-00222-2

[3] Budka M, Kokociński P. (2022) Daily and seasonal changes of vocal activity of the Common Crane Grus grus: implications for conservation and monitoring efforts. Bird Study 185:19-26. DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2022.2032590

[2] Jedlikowski J, Polak M, Ręk P. (2022) Dear-enemy effect between two sympatric bird species. Animal Behaviour 185:19-26. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2021.11.011

[1] Staniewicz A, Foggett S, McCabe G, Holderied M (2022) Courtship and underwater communication in the Sunda gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii). Bioacoustics 31:435-449 DOI: 110.1080/09524622.2021.1967782