Postdoc position to explore various aspects of masquerade

A postdoc is available to work with Dr Hannah Rowland (Max Planck Research Group Predators and Toxic Prey, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology) and Dr John Skelhorn (University of Newcastle) to explore various aspects of masquerade.

Background: Masquerade is an antipredator defence strategy in which species resemble inedible objects, often inanimate, such as twigs, stones and bird-droppings (Skelhorn, 2015; Skelhorn, Rowland, & Ruxton, 2010; Skelhorn, Rowland, Speed, & Ruxton, 2010). Masqueraders are misclassified by their predators for the object that they resemble (Skelhorn, Rowland, Speed, et al., 2010). The function of masquerade has been tested and confirmed in the lab, but not in the field.

This post: We will explore the antipredator benefits of masquerade in the field, and the information ecology that predators do (or don’t) use about masquerade. The appointed postdoc will design and conduct a series of field-based predation experiments using artificial prey, and work towards using social network information about predation that can be collected on PIT tagged populations of bird predators.

Requirements: We are looking for someone who can lead field-based predation experiments, and manage a team of field assistants. Excellent field skills will be paramount, including experience of creating artificial prey, conducting intensive and long-periods of predation experiments, and managing multiple sites and experimental blocks. Applicants should have the strong communicative skills that fieldwork requires. Experience in studying animal cognition is desirable. The candidate will also be willing to learn how to incorporate social behavioural data into their experimental design and analysis. This project will involve fieldwork in both Germany and the UK, and will be based in Germany.

Further information

Specific skills and experience: please see 

Start date: March 2021 or sometime shortly after. Flexibility in start date may be required (and provided) in light of the current pandemic.

Funding: Until 31/01/2023

Location: Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Field sites: Jena, Germany, and University of Cambridge Madingley Wood

Can I work remotely? Field-based components of the research will take place in Jena and Cambridge. It is anticipated that the appointed postdoc will spend approx. 9-12 months in the field (not necessarily continuously). The candidate will be based in Jena.

Is there money to cover the postdoc attending conferences? Yes. Roughly 1 per year of appointment.

How to apply? Submit your CV, a cover letter outlining how you fit the selection criteria, and names of 3 people who will write you a letter of recommendation 

For further information contact Hannah Rowland 

Closing date:  February 12, 2021


The Max-Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer and strives to employ both genders equally, as well as to employ more individuals with disabilities. Therefore, we encourage all applicants, independent of their nationality, gender or disability, to apply for this position.