Job announcement
LMU München, Biozentrum, Dept. Biologie II, Evolutionary Biology

PhD - Behavioural isolation in Heliconius butterflies

Application deadline: 21.06.2017
We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student to investigate mate choice and speciation in the tropics. The student will focus on behavioural and genetic/genomic aspects of reproductive isolation in Heliconius butterflies.

The student will be supervised by Dr Richard Merrill (, and funded as part of his DFG Emmy Noether grant. The project is focused on understanding the genetic basis and evolution of differences in visual mate recognition between divergent Heliconius taxa. Heliconius butterflies are well known for their bright warning patterns, which males also use as a mate recognition cue. Although the genetic basis of the colour pattern cues is now known in great detail, we know relatively little about the genetic basis of the corresponding preference behaviours. In addition, we still know little of how colour pattern cues may influence female mating decisions.

The project would suit someone keen to combine fieldwork and behavioural experiments in the tropics with molecular lab work and genomic analysis.

Methodological approaches could include mate choice assays, QTL and/or gene expression analyses, but could also involve additional field, lab or insectary experiments depending on the candidate's interests.

The successful candidate will be based in the Division of Evolutionary Biology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat, Munich. Across the division, we take an integrative approach to the study of evolutionary processes (, and apply a large range of methodologies including fieldwork, population genetic modelling, large genomic approaches, experimental evolution work and functional characterization. The student will also likely spend considerable time at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, in collaboration with Dr Owen McMillan's research group. Both at LMU and STRI (, the student will be part of vibrant international communities of scientists. The researcher will join a collaborative and driven community of Heliconius biologists (

Further information (including relevant publications) can be found at (, and questions should be directed to Richard Merrill ( Applications should be sent to the same address, and include a CV, a letter of motivation and the names and contact details of two referees before 21th June 2017. Please use the subject header: "HELICONIUS SPECIATION PHD".

Dr. Richard Merrill
Emmy Noether Group Leader
Division of Evolutionary Biology Faculty of Biology
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen
Grosshaderner Strasse 2
82152 Planegg-Martinsried
phone: +49 (0)89 / 2180-74160 (Panama: (+507) 64267029)

© 02.06.2017 Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft e.V., DZG