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Doctoral Position in Neuroethology
Universität Konstanz

Doctoral Position in Neuroethology(65 %, E 13 TV-L)Reference No.: 2024/102 . The start date is September 1st 2024, or by agreement. The position is initially available for three years. The University of Konstanz is one of eleven Universities of Excellence in Germany. Since 2007 it has been successful in the German Excellence Initiative and its follow-up programme, the Excellence Strategy.The Visual Neuroethology group headed by Dr. Anna Stöckl is recruiting a PhD candidate to study the dynamic visual abilities of nocturnal moths. Our growing lab at the University of Konstanz focuses on how insects process information for flower selection and movement control in varying light environments. We approach these questions using a combination of neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, quantitative behavioural methods and computational tools.Project description:Driving along a tree-lined avenue, we have all experienced how the rapid succession of light and shade disrupts our vision. Such conditions push even synthetic sensors to their limits, but many animals master these challenges on a daily—and nightly—basis. Indeed, a high dynamic range is a hallmark of natural sensory environments. For nocturnal animals, artificial light at night makes this range even more extreme, and poses a considerable challenge to their visual system. How then is dynamic visual information processed with the limited bandwidth available in neural circuits? And what role do an animal’s movements, which shape what it sees, play in matching the acquired information to the limited processing capacity? The visually-guided flight of nocturnal moths is uniquely suited for approaching these questions.In this project, the PhD candidate will study the mechanisms underlying vision in dynamic light environments. The elephant hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor) currently serves as a focus species. We plan to expand our investigations comparatively to other nocturnal moths. To dissect the neural basis of natural behaviour in dynamic light, the project will have a strong focus on quantitative behavioural measurements of the moths’ free flight in different light intensities, using newly established motion-capture tracking in a large flight arena. Depending on the candidate’s qualifications and interests, neurophysiological measurements of motion processing neurons, or quantifications of the natural and polluted light environments of moths, can complement this approach. Integrated into an expanding group in the international environment at Konstanz University, this research project will pioneer our understanding of how nocturnal insects cope with dynamic light environments, including artificial light pollution.

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