jeudi 26 janvier 2017

Master Projects – Parental decisions in Lesser Black-backed Gulls

Parents have to take numerous factors into account in order to optimise their reproductive decisions.
These factors include aspects of their own intrinsic capacity as well as many aspects of their social  nd ecological environment. In this project we investigate (a) how lesser Black-backed gulls achieve  efficient within-pair coordination and potentially equality in reproductive investment and (b) how  foraging specialisation both in terms of degree (generalist-specialist spectrum) and type  (anthropogenic, terrestrial, or marine) of specialisation affects their reproductive success. 

Project (a): The student will focus on partner coordination in Lesser Black-backed Gulls and do fieldwork during the breeding season (from mid-April until mid-July 2017). During the fieldwork  breeding pairs will be observed and cameras will be set up to monitor their behaviour at the nest.
The fieldwork will also involve the measuring and weighing of chicks to follow their development and fledging success. After the field season the videos will be analysed with the programme “The ObserverXT” at the University of Antwerp.  

Project (b): Stable isotopes show a step-wise enrichment with trophic level and are deposited in  tissues of the consumer. Depending on the timing that a tissue developed, this method allows  obtaining dietary information over different snapshots throughout the reproductive cycle. The student will collect samples throughout the breeding season and process them in the lab for stable isotope analysis.
We are looking for two enthusiastic master students, who like working in the field/lab and can cope with at sometimes difficult working conditions. Previous field experience is desirable, but not  essential. Fieldwork will take place in Vlissingen (the Netherlands), a driving license is a prerequisite. Data will be analysed in the statistical programme R, and previous experience is an advantage.
If you are interested, please get in touch with Marwa Kavelaars (
or look for more information on: