Understanding sperm-egg interactions in broadcast spawning marine invertebrates

Exploring the role of the environment in reproduction

This project will seek to understand how the fertilisation environment influences sperm egg interactions in broadcast spawning marine invertebrates. A central focus of the project will be to understand how egg chemoattractants (sperm-attracting chemicals released by eggs) function to attract sperm from different males, and how environmental factors (e.g. temperature, pH) influence these processes.

Within this central goal, there is scope for you to explore your specific interests (e.g. adaptation to environmental change, patterns of sexual selection across contexts, etc.). You will learn and utilise skills in quantitative and molecular genetics to understand how patterns of gamete choice can change according to local conditions.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

Research team leader: Professor Jon Evans

My research interests lie in the fields of evolutionary biology and behavioural ecology although my background is in marine biology. I am particularly interested in the evolution of reproductive traits, tactics and behaviour, and the interplay between successive (pre- and postcopulatory) episodes of sexual selection. My funding typically comes from the ARC’s Discovery grants scheme.

How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project:

  • Applicants must have an undergraduate or master’s degree in a relevant discipline, including Zoology, Ecology or Evolutionary Genetics, with relevant research experience (e.g. Honours or Masters research) in these areas.
  • Good working knowledge of statistics and statistical software (e.g. R) is essential.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


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