Project properties

Title Habitat quality and reproductive performance in cooperatively breeding African birds
Group Behavioural Ecology
Project type thesis
Credits 30-36
Supervisor(s) Miriam Kuspiel
Sjouke A. Kingma
Kat L. Bebbington
Examiner(s) Marc Naguib
Contact info sjouke.kingma@wur.nl
Begin date 2020/03/10
End date 2023/03/10
Description The savannahs and woodlands of eSwatini can be rather challenging for survival and reproduction of birds: Temperatures can be very high, rainfall scarce or lacking for months, and bush fires can destroy great parts of the vegetation. With climate change, weather extremes are further bound to become more common and rain seasons less predictable. Such environmental conditions likely reflect back on reproductive performance of birds. For white-crested helmetshirkes, the links between vegetation, food availability, precipitation, temperature and the timing and success of breeding are as yet unknown. Their breeding system further adds another dimension, as they live in groups of one breeding pair plus helpers, which might buffer against harsh conditions. Group size might thus affect both territory quality and size or reproductive performance directly. An array of techniques can thus be selected to investigate environmental and group size effects on breeding performance.
Used skills animal monitoring, ornithological field work, assessments of ecological conditions
Requirements The fieldwork takes place in the savanna of Eswatini in Southern Africa; an adventurous attitude is an advantage: the fieldsite is beautiful but remote and accommodation is basic.