Job announcement
LMU Munich and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama

Postdoc: Behaviour and speciation in Heliconius butterflies

Application deadline: 21.04.2017

We invite applications for a postdoctoral research position to study visual mate recognition and speciation in Heliconius butterflies with Dr Richard Merrill’s research group at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, and in close collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. The position is funded by the DFG Emmy Noether program, and is initially available for 2.5 years, with a further 2 years of funding available dependent on progress and interests. The position should start on 1 June 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter.
Background and tasks:

Assessing and better understanding spatial and temporal patterns of marine biodiversity including all organisms from the smallest to largest, is a key research goal of the HIFMB. In the startup phase of the institute, we want to establish an independent junior research group on Marine Molecular Ecology, helping us to assess marine biodiversity change by molecular tools. The successful candidate will develop his or her own research projects by establishing molecular tools and work flows for analyses of environmental DNA (eDNA), e.g. for surveillance of metazoan biodiversity in complex marine communities. Tools and workflows to support general NGS based meta-barcoding projects are to be developed. In order to increase collaboration potential with similar research on unicellular organisms, we expect a focus on metazoan/multicellular taxa. The junior research group will strengthen the interactions among working groups from the fields of Evolution and Ecology by establishing multispecies detection methods. The group will be equipped with two additional PhD students and will collaborate on integrative and interdisciplinary research projects with scientists at the HIFMB, the University of Oldenburg and the Alfred Wegener Institute/ Bremerhaven. The candidate is further expected to apply for external funding. The group will be situated at the Oldenburg campus. The candidate will supervise two PhD candidates, the teaching obligation is 2 SWS.


Applicants need an academic university degree (Master or equivalent) and an outstanding PhD in evolutionary genetics including genomic analysis and molecular tools. The capacity for independent research conduction is required, preferentially shown by successful postdoc research associated with scientific publications in international journals. We expect excellent skills in basic and advanced molecular techniques used to investigate taxonomic composition of marine communities. The applicant needs very good English language skills and experience in supervising students.

If you are interested or if you have any further questions, please contact: Helmut Hillebrand,

The position is limited to five years. The salary will be paid in accordance with the German Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes (TVöD Bund) based on qualifications and transferred tasks up to salary group 14. The place of employment will be Oldenburg.

We offer you a multi-disciplinary, international, and fascinating professional environment with flexible working hours, state-of-the-art research equipment, and a first-rate infrastructure.

The University of Oldenburg and AWI aim to increase the number of women in the scientific staff and therefore encourages women to apply. Disabled applicants will be given preference when equal qualifications are present. The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family through various means. Because of our engagement in the area of work-life compatibility we have been awarded the certificate "Career and Family".

Please forward your application with the standard documentation (letter of motivation, CV, certificates and a list of publications) by April 30th, 2017 referencing code 40/D/HIFMB to: Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Personalabteilung (human resources), Postfach 12 01 61, 27515 Bremerhaven/Germany or by e-mail (all documents merged into one PDF file) to:

The project is focused on understanding the genetic basis and evolution of differences in mate recognition between divergent *Heliconius *taxa. *Heliconius* butterflies are well known for their bright warning patterns, which are also used as a mate recognition cue. The genetic basis of the colour pattern cues is now known in fantastic detail; however, we still know relatively little about the genetic basis of the corresponding preference behaviours.

The postdoctoral researcher will be primarily based at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, working in close collaboration with Dr Owen McMillan’s research group. The first major aim of the project is to develop methods to efficiently quantify visual attraction behaviours, using automated video analyses. By combining these methods with genetic crosses and genomic techniques the postdoctoral researcher will then investigate the genetic basis of visual preference behaviours in Heliconius.

Both at LMU ( and STRI (, the postdoctoral researcher will be part of vibrant international communities of scientists. In addition, the researcher will join a collaborative and driven community of Heliconius biologists.

Applicants should have a PhD, completed or completion imminent, in evolutionary biology/genetics, behavioural ecology, or a related field. Experience of behavioural analyses would be desirable. Candidates are expected to work collaboratively, within the group and across the community more generally, and to take an active role in the supervision of students and management of insectaries. Enthusiasm, determination and the capacity to work independently are essential.

Further information can be found at (, and questions should be directed to Richard Merrill ( Applications, including a current CV, letter of motivation and names and contact details of two referees should be sent to Richard Merrill ( before the deadline of 21 April 2017.

© 12.04.2017 Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft e.V., DZG