Dynamic vision: from single photons to behaviour in extreme light environments

Supervisor: Anna Stöckl

The Visual Neuroethology group headed by Dr. Anna Stöckl is recruiting a doctoral candidate to study the dynamic visual abilities of nocturnal moths. Our growing lab at the University of Konstanz focuses on how insects process information for flower selection and movement control in varying light environments. We approach these questions using a combination of neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, quantitative behavioural methods and computational tools.

Project description:

Driving along a tree-lined avenue, we have all experienced how the rapid succession of light and shade disrupts our vision. Such conditions push even synthetic sensors to their limits, but many animals master these challenges on a daily—and nightly—basis. Indeed, a high dynamic range is a hallmark of natural sensory environments. For nocturnal animals, artificial light at night makes this range even more extreme, and poses a considerable challenge to their visual system. How then is dynamic visual information processed with the limited bandwidth available in neural circuits? And what role do an animal’s movements, which shape what it sees, play in matching the acquired information to the limited processing capacity? The visually-guided flight of nocturnal moths is uniquely suited for approaching these questions.

In this project, the doctoral candidate will study the mechanisms underlying vision in dynamic light environments. The elephant hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor) will serve as a focus species, while other nocturnal moths will be used for comparative investigations. To dissect the neural basis of natural behaviour in dynamic light, different methods will be combined, including quantitative behavioural measurements of the moths’ free flight in different light intensities (with and without light pollution), neurophysiological measurements of their motion processing neurons, and quantifications of their natural and polluted light environments. Integrated into an expanding group in the international environment at Konstanz University, this research project will pioneer our understanding of how nocturnal insects master dynamic light environments despite their limited ocular flexibility and processing capacity.

Your profile:

  • Master sc. or equivalent in Biology, Neuroscience, Engineering or related fields
  • A strong interest in insect vision and neuroethology
  • Experience in electrophysiological experiments OR behavioural experiments
  • Experience in computational modelling or environmental imaging is preferable

The position: starting August 2023 (negotiable)

Main supervisor: Anna Stöckl anna.stoeckl@uni-konstanz.de

You will be part of an expanding research group (https://www.insect-vision.com/), integrated into the international environment at the neurobiology department at Konstanz University, and benefit from our association with the Excellence Cluster for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour.

The Universität Konstanz and the Max Planck Society are equal opportunity employers that are committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or disability. They seek to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourage women to apply  (Equal opportunity). Persons with disabilities are explicitly encouraged to apply.

They will be given preference if appropriately qualified (contact +49 7531 88 4016).

For further information regarding the position, please contact Anna Stöckl.

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