The QMEE CDT Project proposal database

Welcome to the QMEE CDT Project proposal database. This is a live list of projects proposals put forward by PIs across the CDT partner institutions

PIs/Supervisors will continue to add projects to this list over the next few months, so do keep checking back! You can search the projects using the box below: simply enter some text and press Search to do a text search across all the database fields. If you want to search more finely, the search tool also allows you to search on particular details of the project descriptions: you will see these finer search options appear if you click on the search box.

Click on the view button next to a project to get the full proposal description. If you want to download project details, either for all projects, or for a subset you have searched for, then click on the 'Download details' button.

Linking infidelity with behaviour in social networks
Infidelity is common among many taxa with prevailing social monogamy, but we still do not know what shapes variation in, and drives the evolution of, extra-pair behaviour. Males are expected to reap fitness benefits from siring extra-pair offspring, because extra-pair fathers do not expend resources on costly parental care. This is, however, not the case for females who raise the resulting extra-pair young, posing the question of why females take part in extra-pair matings. The indirect benefits hypothesis explains female infidelity, where females benefit indirectly from better, or more compatible genes for their offspring. However, this hypothesis is not well supported empirically, evidenced by two contradictory meta-analyses on the topic, and ongoing discussion in the field. Specifically, only one long-term study that quantified life-time reproductive success supports the indirect fitness benefits hypothesis. Contradicting this result, extra-pair males have not been found to be superior, or more compatible, than a female's within-pair male. Females were found to incur no indirect benefits, and even fitness costs by mating outside of their pair bond, suggesting that that this hypothesis does not satisfactorily explain why females cheat. Recently suggested novel, testable hypotheses provide a fresh perspective. These hypotheses explain female infidelity with intra- and intersexual antagonistic pleiotropy, and remain largely untested. This project aims to empirically test these hypotheses by using the powerful combination of long-term data from a wild population, state-of-the-art social network analysis and manipulative experiments on captive birds. This project will reap the benefits from long-term data in the wild, where precise fitness data and a genetic pedigree allow fitness costs and benefits to be measured, and quantitative genetic analyses. Given the long-standing conundrum of female extra-pair behaviour, this project has the potential forward this field significantly.
Julia Schroeder
Danica Vukadinovic Greetham
Computing, Quantitative data analysis, Evolutionary observations / data collection
Danica Vukadinovic Greetham
Data collection and collation, database management, programming skills (Phython, R), statistical skills (Advanced GLMMs, Bayesian statistics, randomisations), Social Network analysis
Animal social networks are valuable to research on social behaviours. We will move the field forwards by pushing the boundaries of existing methodology, and applying methods from mathematical applications to biological data. We envisage that new mathematical and statistical techniques will be developed extending the existing methods so they can cope with new datasets.
Infidelity is common among many taxa with prevailing social monogamy, but we still do not know what shapes variation in, and drives the evolution of, extra-pair behaviour. The long-term data, together with the two outstanding study systems, will allow produce valuable insight into the evolutionary biology of extra-pair behaviour.
Big data analysis, social media data analysis, social network analysis. New mathematical and statistical techniques will be developed extending existing methods (e.g. Laplacian operators to analyse the influence of network structure dynamics to processes on networks and interplays between teh different network layers and building novel stochastic actor-based models for network dynamics).
Given the long-standing conundrum of why females take part in extra-pair behaviour and the cutting-edge methods, this project has the potential to take this field significantly forward.
This project combines field work and experimental design with advanced data extraction and modelling tasks. Based on empirical multi-layer longitudinal social networks inferred from the collected data, the dynamics of networks structure and the dynamics of different process on the network will be investigated to deepen our understanding of the links between behaviour, genes and social aspect.
Behavioural ecology, Population genetics and evolution, Ecological/Evolutionary tools, technology & methods
- Statistics, GLMMs - Bayesian statistics - Programming/Python - Social network analysis - Stochastic actor-based models
Silwood, Reading
2017-09-28 14:02:27