Evolution of parents feeding offspring

Sorry, we're no longer accepting applications for this project, but take a look at our Postgraduate Research programmes for more PhD opportunities.

About this project

Parental feeding is rare among animals. The studentship will focus on this crucial but little-understood behaviour. Insects are excellent for asking evolutionary questions about parental care: strategies are diverse, and often differ among related species. The student will first complete and publish a large reproductive trait database for insects, begun by Dr Gilbert, and second, in a broad comparative analysis across many species, address the following questions: (1) What ecological factors favour the evolution and/or maintenance of parental provisioning? Does provisioning evolve with harsh or stable environments; scarce, specialized resources; or predation? Is loss of offspring self-sufficiency a key precondition for the evolution of parental provisioning? (2) What are the evolutionary consequences of a food-provisioning strategy? Is optional (or partial) food provisioning behaviour inherently unstable? The project will deepen our understanding of an extremely important group, insects, and provides key comparisons not available in groups like mammals who uniformly feed offspring.


Lead Supervisor: Dr James Gilbert,

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: experience essential with at least one out of: database management, phylogenies, insect behaviour studies; two or more desirable. 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.