This joint international research staff exchange programme launches a programme on the genetics of ecological speciation, using birds as a model system. We will use population genomics approaches in combination with the candidate gene approach, and follow up with additional techniques such as QTL association mapping. In particular, we will gather further molecular evidence to confirm or refute the occurrence of sympatric speciation in two avian radiations, and initiate the search for genetic regions that are under selection, in order to determine the genetic basis of adaptation and ultimately speciation. This will be achieved by exchanging the expertise of each participating organisation, i.e. Lund University, Sweden, University of Sheffield, UK, and the Universities of Cape Town and Pretoria, South Africa. The programme allows synergistic benefits by exchanging novel laboratory innovations and increasing lab efficiency by exchanging experience and cross-using available infrastructure. “Learning by doing” by visiting researchers working in the lab is a crucial strategy to transfer knowledge through the programme. In line with the aims of the European Research Area, our exchange programme will enable a flow of competent researchers with high levels of mobility between institutions and countries in Europe and South Africa. In our programme we will make use of and open up world-class research infrastructures to make them accessible to the researchers. We hope that our programme will contribute to opening the European Research Area to wider world with special emphasis on a country with which the Community has an S&T Agreement with. We will develop strong links between the partners in the Community and in South Africa so that Europe will benefit from the progress of knowledge, contribute to global development and take a leading role in international initiatives to solve global scientific issues.
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