Voor 0.8 - 1.0 fte
Vacaturenummer 18318
VU onderdeel: External

VU University Amsterdam is one of the leading institutions for higher education in Europe and aims to be inspiring, innovative, and committed to societal welfare. It comprises ten faculties and has teaching facilities for 23,000 students.
The Department of Ecological Sciences (DES), embedded in the Faculty of Sciences, answers fundamental ecological and evolutionary questions regarding the relationship between organisms and their environment at the full array of hierarchical levels: from molecular ecology to ecosystem research. The department comprises a dynamic community of researchers and provides an excellent research environment with state-of-the-art facilities and high quality training.
Job / Project Description
The Department of Ecological Science, section Animal Ecology of VU University Amsterdam has two PhD-positions available for the project
‘Evolving communication systems in response to urban sensory conditions '
Animals have evolved an astounding variety of signals to attract mates, fend-off rivals or avoid predators. These animal communication systems play a crucial role in evolutionary processes such as adaptation and speciation. Understanding how these communication systems evolve is therefore very important, in particular in our rapidly changing world.
In the project CITISENSE, funded through an ERC starting grant to Wouter Halfwerk, the evolution of communication systems will be studied in urban and forest populations of the tungara frog in central Panama. The main aim is to understand how males of this species have adapted their calling behaviour to changes in noise and light levels that are associated with increased urbanization. Key questions that need to be addressed are:
1) How do male tungara frogs adjust their signals to altered sensory environments? We will assess plasticity and heritability of signal divergence found between urban and forest populations. 2) How do male frog signals evolve in response to direct (via sender) and indirect (via receivers) selection pressures? We will expose forest sites to noise and light pollution and carry out experimental evolution using artificial phenotypes. 3) What are the evolutionary consequences of signal divergence? We will assess inter-and-intra sexual responses to signal divergence between urban and forest populations.
We are searching for two PhD-students who will address these questions as a team and who will i) carry out a large-scale field experiment in tropical rainforest in Panama; ii) carry out lab experiments on male sexual signaling and female preferences; iii) Assess correlations between behavioural, physiological and morphological traits associated with signaling; iv) Quantify heritability of signal components through breeding experiments and pedigree analyses.
• execute the scientific research as detailed in the project description;
• publish results in scientific journals as well as in a thesis;
• assist in undergraduate courses given within the Department of Ecological Science;
• adhere to the PhD educational program as prescribed by the Department.
• a master’s degree, preferably with a strong interest in ecology, evolution, and/or behavior and affinity with acoustics or other types of signal analysis.
• experience with field experiments, behavioral studies, and/or sensory ecology;
• excellent ability to communicate in both written and spoken English;
• good social skills, ability to work independently and strong scientific motivation;
Further particulars
The initial appointment will be for a period of 1 year. After satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, it can be extended to a total duration of 4 years at 1.0 fte, or 5 years at 0.8 fte.
Information about our excellent fringe benefits of employment can be found at Benefits include:
• remuneration of 8,3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday allowance
• generous contribution (65%) commuting allowance based on public transport;
• discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance);
• a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge.
The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel, and ranges from a minimum of € 2,266.- gross per month up to a maximum of € 2,897.- gross per month based on fulltime employment (salary scale 85) for a PhD student.
For additional information please contact: Dr. W. Halfwerk ( Upon request, applicants can obtain a full description of the project from Dr. W. Halfwerk.
Applicants are requested to write a letter in which they describe their abilities and motivation, accompanied by a curriculum vitae and two reference names. Applications – in a single pdf-file only – should be sent to: with the vacancy number in the subject before 4th of October 2018.
Please mention the vacancy number in the e-mail header and at the top of your letter.
Any other correspondence in response to this advertisement will not be dealt with.