Project properties

Title Adapting to city life: a study of the biological rhythms of forest and city birds
Group Behavioural Ecology
Project type thesis
Credits 33-36
Supervisor(s) Barbara Tomotani (NIOO-KNAW Wageningen) & Marc Naguib
Examiner(s) Marc Naguib
Contact info or
Begin date 2020/02/01
End date 2022/02/01
Description Urbanization provides a fantastic opportunity to study the evolutionary processes in action. Cities profoundly change the environment, putting organisms under contrastingly distinct selective pressures when compared to natural environments such as forests. For example, urban environments are warmer, noisier and with much more light at night in comparison to forests. Due to these strong and distinct pressures, and sometimes restricted gene flow, organisms in cities are known to undergo rapid phenotypic and genetic changes. We are interested in using these differences between urban and forest environments to study the evolution of biological clocks.
What will you do?
You will help to monitor the great tit breeding season. We will monitor birds nesting in a forest and a city in the Netherlands. We will follow the whole breeding from nest building until chick fledgling. You will also be involved when we catch, ring and measure adult birds and chicks.
You will also help to collect activity and nest incubation data of birds in cities and forests using RFID tags and temperature loggers.
Possible questions for students include (but are not limited to):
- Do forest and city birds have different reproductive success?
- Is the activity pattern of forest and city birds different?
- Is the incubation pattern of forest and city birds different?
Students can also come up with their own research questions if they fit in the scope of this project. Apart from field-based ecological questions, we can also discuss possibilities to study the biological clocks of birds in captivity and also questions involving genetic/genomics of wild birds.
Used skills Ornithological field techniques
Requirements MSc Courses in Behavioural Ecology or equivalent expertise