PhD studentship based in Debrecen, Hungary 2019–2023
Supervisors: Prof Tamás Székely (Debrecen, Hungary), Dr András Kosztolányi (Budapest, Hungary), Dr Vojtěch Kubelka (Debrecen, Hungary)

Sex roles (i.e. courtship, competition for mates, pair bonding and parenting) are among the most diverse social behaviour. Recent research is uncovering key elements of sex role variation, but significant gaps remain. Appropriate sexual behaviour is essential for reproduction, and thus understanding the causes and implications of sex roles are at the core of evolutionary biology and fundamental for the study of life history evolution, physiology and population biology. Understanding sex roles is also important for biodiversity conservation since disruptions to normal sexual behaviour due to environmental changes reduce the viability of wild populations.

Our team was recently awarded an project of Hungarian Science Foundation, the ÉLVONAL SHOREBIRD SCIENCE: to investigate sex role evolution in shorebirds. This PhD project will focus on sex role behaviour in shorebirds. Using behavioural observations in wild populations it will investigate causes of display behaviour, pair bonding and parenting. The PhD student will test whether (i) sex role behaviours are induced by ambient environment, life history and/or social environment, (ii) explore the relationship between different sex role components, and (iii) test the fitness implications of sex role variations.

The ideal candidate has a strong interest in evolutionary biology, behavioural ecology and field biology, and willing to work in remote areas in Madagascar, Cape Verde, Mexico or elsewhere. He/she needs to have a solid background in data analyses preferably in R, and statistical modelling. A condition of the application is a Master degree (or equivalent) in biology, zoology or similar subject. Experience in field ornithology and bird ringing is desirable but not essential. The studentship will start in September 2019. We are preferably seeking candidates willing to raise their own funding. Note that for students from eligible countries the Stipendium Hungaricum offers a scholarship programme (

Interested candidates should contact Dr Vojtěch Kubelka ([email protected]). Applications that include a CV (max 3 pages) and a max 2 pages cover letter with personal motivation and the name and contact details of two references (both in English) should be sent to Dr Kubelka before deadline.

Deadline of application: 31 December 2018.



Carmona-Isunza, M C, C Küpper, M A Serrano-Meneses & T. Székely. 2015. Courtship behavior differs between monogamous and polygamous plovers. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 69: 2035–2042.
Cunningham, C, J. E. Parra, L. Coals, M. Beltrán, S. Zefania & T. Székely. 2018. Social interactions predict genetic diversification: an experimental manipulation in shorebirds. Behavioral Ecology 29: 609–618.
Eberhart-Phillips, L. J., …, A. Kosztolányi, …, T. Székely, … 2018. Demographic causes of adult sex ratio variation and their consequences for parental cooperation. Nature Communications 9 (1651).
Kosztolányi, A., Z. Barta, C. Küpper & T. Székely. 2011. Persistence of an extreme male-biased adult sex ratio in a natural population of polyandrous bird. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24: 1842–1846.
Kubelka V., Šálek M., Tomkovich P., Végvári Z., Freckleton R. P. & Székely T. 2018: Global pattern of nest predation is disrupted by climate change in shorebirds. Science 362: 680–683.
Vincze, O., A. Kosztolányi, … & T. Székely. 2016. Parental cooperation in a changing climate: fluctuating environments predict shifts in care division. Global Ecology and Biogeography 26: 347–358.