Project properties

Title The role of birds for managing Oak Processionary Caterpillars
Group Behavioural Ecology
Project type thesis
Credits 24-36
Supervisor(s) Prof. Kees van Oers (NIOO-KNAW/WUR)
Examiner(s) Prof. Dr. Kees van Oers
Contact info kees.vanoers@wur.nl
Begin date 2020/04/01
End date 2024/12/31
Description Oak processionary caterpillars (Thaumetopoea processionea ; OPC) have increased in abundance greatly over the last decade. They are seen as a pest, because of their venomous hairs, which can cause skin irritation in humans. Over the past years the role of songbirds, predominantly the great tit (Parus major), as a pest management tool has been widely advocated. However, strong evidence for the effectiveness of an effect of great tits on OPC densities is lacking.
In this project, you will be part of a systematic study on the role for passerines in pest management.

For this purpose we setup a new nest box population (100 boxes) of great tits in �s Gravenlande's Buitenplaatsen around the Natuurmonumenten Bezoekerscentrum �Gooi- en Vechtstreek� . With over 600.000 visitors yearly and an increasing density of OPC, this area is ideal for this study.
Projects are also possible around the campus site, where also 100 new boxes are hung up in collaboration with Wildlife Ecology (WUR).
We look for students that want to do projects on questions related to the foraging behaviour of great tits during nestling periods (April, May, June) and/or fledging periods (June, July, August).
Also possibilities on insect ecology or combinations are possible.
Used skills Drivers licence is handy
Field work
Statistics
Tracking
Experimental setup
Requirements Willingness to spend fieldwork near Utrecht ('s Gravenlande)