Project properties

Title Fieldstudy on birds in Africa: cooperation, family conflict, altruism and/or brood parasitism
Group Behavioural Ecology
Project type thesis
Credits 36
Supervisor(s) Sjouke Kingma, Kat Bebbington
Examiner(s) Sjouke Kingma
Contact info sjouke.kingma@wur.nl
Begin date 2019/05/03
End date 2022/07/02
Description Several MSc research projects are available in our �Social savanna� research project. We study the behaviour and physiology of a range of different bird species (speckled mousebirds, arrow-marked babblers, white-crested helmet-shrikes, dark-capped bulbuls and oxpeckers). The projects include 2.5 to 3 months fieldwork (e.g. nest monitoring, observations and catching individuals) in the stunning Mbuluzi Game Reserve, a typical African savanna habitat with amazing wildlife (but no dangerous large animals). The project start date would preferably be either in June/July (when we mainly catch individuals) or in August-October (the start of the breeding season).
Specifically, we are currently considering the following questions:
- Do mousebirds benefit physiologically from group living?
- How do mousebirds resolve conflict over which group members get to reproduce?
- How do �helpers-at-the-nest benefit reproduction? (possible in all species)
- Does cooperation reduce parasite infection and lead to a better immune system? (all species)
- Do helpers in babblers prevent parasitism by cuckoos?
- Host-preference by oxpeckers: do they prefer certain host species or certain individuals, and why?
- Begging behaviour in bulbuls: how do siblings compete for food and what is the effect?

As you see, plenty of opportunities, and we also welcome own ideas in the field of avian cooperation, competition and other topics. Please just come visit us to have a chat, we can tell you more about the projects, and we can see if there is anything that would suit your interest!


Used skills fieldwork
Requirements Being able to work in harsh and isolated environments