PhD thesis offer- Behaviour, cognition and neurobiology in the the Japanese quail bird (Centre Val de Loire, France, 3 years)

Application deadline: 19th March 2023


Title: Relationships between the level of sociability of the individual, social behaviours, cognitive abilities and associated neurobiological bases in the domestic bird.

Host Unit/Team: UMR PRC 7247 – INRAE Centre Val de Loire, Cognition, Ethology, Animal Welfare Team.

Supervisors: Ludovic Calandreau (Research Director, HDR, INRAE Nouzilly) and Vitor Ferreira (Research Associate, INRAE Nouzilly)

Start of PhD: October 2023
Duration: 3 years .

Funding: Acquired. The selection process is divided into two stages: First, the supervisors will select three candidates from all applications received. This selection will take place between March 20 and April 14, 2023.
Second, the jury of the doctoral school will hold auditions between May 14 and 15, 2023 to select the candidate for the thesis.

Salary: 1874,41 € gross per month

Summary: Comparative studies in birds and mammals have shown that species that are more socially connected, or have connections of better quality, have more sophisticated cognitive abilities. However, within the
same group, individuals may differ in their level of sociability,
defined as the ability to form social bonds. Possible links between sociability traits and cognitive abilities are still poorly understood, especially in birds. This project aims, in its first part, to study, through a unique model of Japanese
genetically selected for more than 75 generations on their sociability level (high or low sociability line), the influence of this trait on important behaviours for the organization and the dynamics of group. Then, we will study if the level of sociability of an individual selectively influences the cognitive capacities related to the processing of social information or, more broadly, other cognitive capacities without apparent link with social information. Finally, to support these behavioural and cognitive experiments, we will study whether, within brain regions known to be involved in social behaviour or cognition, the expression of plasticity markers is also modulated by the individual’s level of sociability.

In addition to its fundamental interest, this project will increase our knowledge on the social behaviour of a farmed species. Indeed, some major behavioural alterations encountered in poultry production systems (feather pecking, aggressiveness) are related to social behaviour. A better understanding of these behaviours in domestic birds will allow us to propose potentially more effective and more precise solutions.


The candidate may have a background in ethology, neuroscience, psychology, or come from an agro-, agricultural/veterinary school/university, with a strong interest in animal behaviour, cognition, and neurobiology.

Good analytical, writing (French and English) and statistical skills. Foreign candidates must have an upper-intermediate level of French (B2). Driving license B required. Personal vehicle recommended.

How to apply

For more information or to send your application (cover letter, CV, grades): Vitor Ferreira ( In addition to a first contact with the supervisors, applications must be submitted on ADUM ( from February 20, 2023 until March 19, 2023.