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Animal Behavior Society
Animal Behavior Society

Working towards a better understanding of animal behavior

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Masters position- Evolution of animal communication
Grad Positions
Posted Aug 23
Graduate position (M.S.) for evolution of animal communication at Murray State University (KY) 

The Beckers’ Lab at Murray State University accepts a Masters student who is interested in the evolution of animal communication starting in the spring semester of 2019. 

We study katydids and crickets to address questions pertaining the evolution of animal behavior, or more specifically, animal communication. Our research focusses on the effects of the environment (i.e., phenotypic plasticity) on mating songs and song preferences. In our main study species, Neoconocephalus triops, day length induces two substantially different mating songs. These differences in the songs are comparable to species differences within the genus. In a collaboration with two other labs (Missouri and West Virginia), we study the genetic underpinnings of this behavioral plasticity and how the involved genes possibly relate to speciation within the genus. 
            In addition, we are currently exploring the effect and evolutionary consequences of the seasonal environment on the communication system of a local cricket species, Gryllus rubens. In this species, the songs change in response to its rearing temperature. This cricket and N. triopsare two of the very few described Orthopterans that display this kind of phenotypic plasticity in their reproductive communication systems. Studying this environmentally-induced variation provides important insights in the evolutionary potential of plasticity.

I seek driven, enthusiastic, and focused students to join my lab at Murray State University. Successful applicants have a B.S. in biology, ecology, or related discipline and are interested in studying animal behavior and evolution. If you are interested in this opportunity and/or have any questions, please email Dr. Beckers at For your application, make sure to address in an attached document (1) your research interests, (2) how they relate to the Beckers’ lab research, and your (3) GPA. 

Funding for tuition and a summer stipend are available for research related to N. triopssong plasticity. In addition, MSU offers a TAship ($8,000/year) and a biodiversity stipend ($10,000 per year + research supplies and meeting expenses) that the applicant is encouraged to apply. Please get in touch with me if you have any questions. Once you indicated interest in the position, an interview will be set up shortly after (i.e., skype). Please apply/get in touch with me by October 1, 2018.
More information on Dr. Beckers’ research here:
Information about the Department of Biological Sciences at MSU: