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PhD position in Norway: "Trait-based modeling of host-parasite dynamics in a changing world." Fully funded (salary NOK 479600-523200 per year).

Individuals of a wildlife population can vary in a range of traits affecting their life history as well as responses to parasites. Demographic population models are suitable for including such trait variation as well as environmental drivers, and represent a promising tool to study effects of host heterogeneity on outcomes of disease dynamics. For instance, host individuals may differ in exposure to parasite infection through their space use behavior or social organisation, or in the strength and specificity of their immune response. This project aims to bring together recent developments in demographic models, to investigate how key outcomes of host-parasite dynamics depend on the joint impacts of i) individual heterogeneity in host traits affecting vital rates and infection dynamics, and ii) external drivers like temperature or resource level.

Depending on the candidate's specific background and interests, the project will include a theoretical part with development and analysis of demographic models for host-parasite dynamics, as well as a more empirical part modeling the key components of a host-vector-parasite system in Norway (Lyme disease). The successful candidate will develop detailed research questions in close collaboration with the supervisors, and the direction of the project is quite flexible within the general topic and the two project parts.

Regarding the empirical study system, climate warming is currently shifting the distribution of ticks to higher latitudes and altitudes, and the incidence of tick-borne diseases is increasing in Europe and North America. Lyme disease is a notifiable disease in Norway since 1995, which provide a unique database for studies of disease emergence under global change at northern latitudes of Europe. A better understanding of the underlying factors that influence the dynamics of Lyme disease is therefore urgently needed. The predictive models to be developed in this project will be simplified representation of the system including the ecology of the main host groups, the main tick vector Ixodes ricinus, and the main pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (causing Lyme disease), including the response to environmental change. Specifically, the impacts of host heterogeneity are so far not well explored and will be a key focus.

PhD position
Department of Biosciences, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of Oslo (UiO).
Closing date
November 19th, 2019
Posted on
October 22nd, 2019 19:01
Last updated
October 22nd, 2019 19:01