Postdoctoral position OT-11684

Spatial CMR models for the estimation of heritability of cognition abilities in the wild

84000 Avignon, France

Back to jobs listing

INRAE presentation

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE) is a public research establishment. It is a community of 12,000 people with more than 200 research units and 42 experimental units located throughout France. The institute is among the world leaders in agricultural and food sciences, in plant and animal sciences, and is 11th in the world in ecology and environment. INRAE’s main goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. In the face of the increase in population, climate change, scarcity of resources and decline in biodiversity, the institute develops solutions for multiperformance agriculture, high quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems.

Work environment, missions and activities

Major environmental changes at various spatio-temporal scales, generated in particular by human activities, lead individuals in natural populations to frequently face unexpected problems or situations that are often best and most rapidly solved using novel or modified behaviours out of their normal repertoire. Such behavioural flexibility has been proposed as a particularly powerful way for individuals to cope with environmental variation and it is thought to aid population persistence by facilitating a rapid response to novel environmental conditions before adaptive evolution can take place. Remarkably, most of our knowledge on the evolution of cognitive abilities in natural populations comes from comparative interspecific studies, and we still know very little about whether these cognitive abilities show adaptive within-species variation and can evolve in response to selective pressures in changing environments. The ANR project EVOL-COG addresses these major knowledge gaps to provide a comprehensive understanding of sources and adaptive consequences of variation in cognitive performances in two highly complementary wild bird models known for their cognitive abilities, the great tit (Parus major) and the collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis), but differing in constraints potentially acting on cognitive abilities.


In this context we propose a two-year postdoc position to develop and implement models combining multi-state capture-recapture and quantitative genetics approaches to estimate heritability levels in innovation and learning while accounting for imperfect individual detection and its potential heterogeneity among individuals in the wild. You will develop the random effects multi-state capture-recapture models needed to incorporate relatedness information to estimate heritability of cognitive abilities while accounting for individual detection probability and its heterogeneity among individuals; additive genetic variance, as a random effect, will be estimated from the long-term pedigree available in the populations of both species on the main study site. The states considered here will be the individual’s solving and learning status. Based on the measures of innovation and learning performances already collected (2011-2015) and complemented by the new measures obtained during the course of the project (2020-2023), you will implement data analyses with these new models. You will also test for the effects of early environmental conditions (year of birth, brood size, nestling condition), on both the heritability level estimated and the possible link between cognitive abilities and survival.

Training and skills


INRAE's life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from (depending on the type of contract and its duration):

- up to 30 days of annual leave + 15 days "Reduction of Working Time" (for a full time);
parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
- skills development systems: trainingcareer advise;
social support: advice and listening, social assistance and loans;
holiday and leisure services: holiday vouchers, accommodation at preferential rates;
sports and cultural activities;
- collective catering.

How to apply

I send my CV and my motivation letter

Offer reference

  • Contract: Postdoctoral position
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Beginning: As soon as possible
  • Reference: OT-11684
  • Dealine: 15/08/2021
Centre Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

BioSP 84000 Avignon, France Website