Summer Internship in Field Ecology Research in Jena, Germany


We are looking for highly motivated students for a 6-8 week internship this summer (2013) at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology to participate in a field project on aphids and their insect enemies. The work involves aphids and their hoverfly predators and seeks to discover whether hoverflies play a role in diversifying pea aphid host choice away from an otherwise favored plant species.

pea aphid

The pea aphid consists of over ten genetically distinct races, each native to a specific host plant. Yet all thrive on broad bean. The factors that gave rise to these races and maintain them are not fully known, but it appears that enemy pressure is involved. In preliminary experiments, hoverflies preferred to lay their eggs on broad bean which may force pea aphids to other plants. The experiments planned for this summer will test different hypotheses to explain hoverfly preference.

During the internship, students will learn how to design and conduct ecological field experiments and analyze the resulting data sets with statistical methods. They will also get insight into the fascinating field of multi-trophic interactions among plants, herbivores and herbivore enemies through laboratory meetings and institute seminars.

The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology currently hosts over 150 scientists from 35 different countries who work on plant-animal interactions and their genetic and biochemical basis. The institute is located in Jena, an old university city located among limestone hills in the picturesque valley of the Saale River. Successful candidates will receive an expense allowance to cover their costs.

For more information or to apply, please contact

Ilka Vosteen at ivosteen [at]

More details on the project can be found on our web pages.