Laterality and parental care in fish

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About this project

Long thought to be unique to humans, lateralisation (or handedness) is now recognised as widespread in vertebrates. Animals show lateralisation in a wide range of organs and behaviours, and it is hypothesised that cerebral lateralisation can enhance cognitive abilities, particularly through the ability to attend to multiple tasks at one time (multitasking). For fish, this might be the ability to simultaneously forage and remain vigilant for predators, for example. In this project, we will investigate the potential link between lateralisation, parental care and other ecological factors in fish. More specifically, the project seeks to address the following questions: 1) Within and across species, are individuals that provide care more likely to be lateralised than individuals that do not? 2) How does laterality link to the ability to multitask in caring and non-caring situations? 3) How do environmental conditions shape laterality, and how does this link to the ability to multitask? Experimental work on the behaviour of fish in the University’s aquarium facilities will be a key component of this project.


 Lead Supervisor: Dr Lesley Morrell,

Next steps


Full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,121 in 2016/17) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

Full-time International Fee PhD Studentships will include full fees at the International student rate for three years, dependent on satisfactory progress.

Entry requirements

To be considered for the shortlist, interested applicants are strongly advised to contact the relevant lead supervisor well in advance of application. Please enclose a CV and a brief explanation of why this position interests you, and any questions you have. Applicants should have at least a 2.1 undergraduate degree in Biology, Ecology, or related discipline, together with relevant research experience. A 1st class undergraduate degree or Masters level qualification are anticipated. 

Further requirements: essential to the project are good skills and experience with experimental work, preferentially in behavioural ecology and/or with fish; experience with R desirable.

Successful applicants will be informed of the award as soon as possible and by 8th May 2017 at the latest.


Find out more about research in Biological and Environmental Science

How to apply

Application deadline: 13 March 2017

Research options:

PhD: 4 years (full-time)

The Postgraduate Training Scheme

PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Masters level Certificate, or Diploma, in Research Training, in addition to their research degree.