PhD Research Project: Social networks of bats

United Kingdom
Sep 28, 2016
May 31, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
Social networks can be influenced by genetic relatedness, previous interactions, mate choice and a range of other factors. In collaboration with Dr Roger Ransome we have genotyped bats at a colony of greater horseshoe bats inhabiting Woodchester Mansion, Gloucestershire since 1993. We have constructed extensive pedigrees, and determined fathers for most of the pups born (Rossiter et al. 2005). In the winter bats associate at hibernation sites, where mating often takes place. In this study we will construct social networks of associations (Croft et al. 2008) at hibernacula, and ask the following questions:

Are associations stable across years?

Do related animals share hibernacula?

Do males that share hibernacula with females father pups born to those females?

We will also analyse social interactions within maternity colonies, and use thermal imaging to determine costs and benefits of clustering behaviour. We will determine whether specific individuals are consistent in their positioning in roost clusters, how thermoregulatory benefits are related to position in the cluster, and how clustering may benefit thermoregulation during development. The project involves fieldwork, analyses of a long-term data set of genetic relatedness and roost associations in a mammal population (Jones, Rossiter), and will benefit from Croft’s expertise in social network analysis. The successful student will be trained in microsatellite genotyping and social network analyses. The long-term dataset of hibernation associations and parentage will be augmented by data collected by the student. Some GPS tagging will be used to determine movement associations among relatives.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western 4+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP). The studentships will provide funding for a stipend (currently £14,057 pa), training support fee and UK/EU tuition fees for 3.5 years for full-time students. Applicants must be classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes. Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

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