PhD position in population biology and biocontrol
A PhD position is available with Dr Arne Janssen, Department of Evolutionary and Population Biology within the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) at the University of Amsterdam. IBED is one of the eight research institutes within the Faculty of Science. Its goal is a better understanding of the dynamics of ecosystems at all relevant levels, from genes to climate change, using a truly multidisciplinary approach.
This PhD position is part of the research project 'Biological control of the emerging pest Echinothrips americanus and other new thrips pests in ornamental crops', financed by the NWO domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (TTW).
Pesticides have negative environmental side effects, and there is increasing demand for alternative, environmental friendly pest control methods such as biological control. The current project focuses on the thrips species Echinothrips americanus and potential new thrips pests Scirtothrips dorsalis and Thrips setosus. Although several predatory mites can feed on young stages of Echinothrips and control the pest on small groups of crop plants in cages, biological control with these predators in greenhouses has failed. Possibly, this was caused by the counterattacks of this thrips on the vulnerable stages (predominantly eggs) of the predatory mites. No biological control methods are available for the potential new thrips pests S. dorsalis and T. setosus. We will investigate such role reversals and the consequences for biocontrol of thrips. We also aim to investigate a new species of predatory mite for thrips control. This predatory mite, Cosmolaelaps sp. is a soil-inhabiting predatory mite and is larger than the predators tested so far and therefore probably less vulnerable for counterattacks by thrips. Our group has recently shown potential of this species for control of Western flower thrips, another pest species and for control of Echinothrips in population experiments. The research will consist of experiments to investigate the predation of thrips and counterattacks of predators by thrips. The effects of these counterattacks on population dynamics will subsequently be assessed in greenhouse experiments. The data thus obtained will serve to develop and test a detailed mathematical predator-prey model, which will be developed by a Postdoc researcher working on the same project, which serves to assess the frequency and quantity of supply of alternative food for optimal pest control. We will also evaluate several methods to decrease the effects of thrips counterattacks.
Within the framework of this project, we are looking for a PhD researcher (during 4 years) with proven experimental experience with small arthropod predators and prey and with biological control research, and with a keen interest in ecological theory, especially population dynamics. The tasks will consist of performing behavioural and population-dynamical experiments in collaboration with a Postdoc researcher (to be appointed). The goal is to develop new methods for control of thrips in glasshouse ornamentals with an emphasis on roses. The research will be carried out in collaboration with a postdoc responsible for the modelling part of this and a related project.
We are looking for you if you meet these criteria:
- a MSc in ecology, evolution or related field;
- good experiments skills, especially with small arthropod predators and prey;
- experience with experimental work on biological control;
- excellent written, oral communication and collaboration skills.
For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.