The role of Neotropical primates on tropical forests.
Begin date: (2019/04/01)
Requirements: Strandard vor MSc thesis: FEM-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management; REG-31806 Ecological Methods I
Plant animal interactions in Tropical forests. Understanding the effect that primates have on forest development and possible cascading effects.
For this project we are interested in determining the effect that primates have on understory vegetation and possible cascading effects.
Our methods mainly consist of transects, vegetation plots, soil samples and if possible camera traps. The work mainly consists of field work and in less proportion lab work.
Research is conducted in Tiputini Biodiversity Station. Located in the pristine Eastern Ecuadorian Amazon on a 650 hectare (1500 acre) tract of lowland rainforest. This remote location provides an unparalleled amount of flora and fauna to observe and study. Situated in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, the Station has been recognized as one of the best spots in the world to study biodiversity because of its protection and isolation. TBS has an extensive system of well-marked trails for the use of researchers and visitors.
Best period (Spring, Summer and Autumn)
Co-operation: project cna also be done in groups of 2 or 3.
Used Skills: SPSS, R Statistics, Lab and Field work
PreMal malaria prevention mosquito catching
MSc student looking for a thesis? Able to start in April or May 2019? Willing to catch mosquitoes in Africa? Then, we want you!
This study will analyse the effect of close-range host cues on the capture performance of a newly-developed mosquito trap. This so-called MTego trap was developed at Wageningen University to target malaria vectors, Anopheles gambiae. We now plan to test the efficacy of this innovative trap in semi-field conditions in Ifakara, Tanzania. The results will be used to improve the design of the MTego trap, that is aimed to be commercialised by the newly created start-up company named PreMal.
We are looking for a motivated MSc student willing to spend 4 to 6 weeks in Ifakara to perform the semi-field tests. The student will design and conduct the semi-field experiments that involve collecting entomological data and measuring sensory cue data such as CO2 levels around the trap. During this project, the student will be supported by PreMal’s entrepreneurs as well as researchers from both Wageningen University and the Ifakara Health Institute.
The candidate is motivated by the possibility to contribute to the development of a commercial product that can affect the life of the most vulnerable people in Africa. The candidate is also genuinely interested in animal behaviour and medical entomology. Finally, she/he is willing to work in an international and multidisciplinary environment.
Florian Muijres - Florian.Muijres@wur.nl
Jeroen Spitzen - Jeroen.Spitzen@wur.nl
Modelling biocontrol agents: Predators
Supervisors: Wouter Plouvier, Eric Wajnberg, Bart Pannebakker and Bas Zwaan
Contact Info: email@example.com
Begin Date: 2019/01/01
End Date: 2019/12/31
Biocontrol agents (predatory mites, lady beetles, parasitoid wasps, etc.) are able to control the pest population on crops. In order to increase their efficiency in the field, it is important to better understand their interactions with both pest and crop. One way of understanding these interactions is through individual based modelling, where the population dynamics are studied by simulating the interactions of the individuals in the model. For this project, we want to parameterize an already existing general model simulating the release of biocontrol agents with data from a specific biocontrol species. The proposed work will consist of scanning the literature for important information on life-history traits and the calibration of model parameters by data collected from literature and from biocontrol companies. The student will construct a model by using elements of previous models to provide for a quick start. This model will then be run to find optimal release strategies for the specific biocontrol agent. For the latter, we make use of a genetic algorithm, which is inspired by Darwinian natural selection and allows for mathematically-based artificial evolution to solve complex problems.
Used skills: Literature search, basic programming skills (Matlab, C, R, Python, etc.), Data analysis
Requirements: Affinity with ecological modelling, basic programming skills. For example obtained through: Ecological Modelling and Data Analysis in R (CSA-34306).
THE EFFECTS OF ENDOSYMBIONTS ON THE BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF APHIDS IN DUTCH GREENHOUSES
Aphids are serious pests in greenhouse vegetable crops. It has recently been found that some aphids carry endosymbionts that can make them resistant to parasitoid wasps. To optimize parasitoid wasp biocontrol and make biological control a better alternative to pesticides, we are studying the effects of endosymbionts on the effectiveness of aphid biocontrol in Dutch greenhouses.
We are looking for BSc and MSc students who can do their internship/thesis during 2019 or 2020. Projects can involve field work such as greenhouse sampling and sampling aphids outside, molecular work (DNA extraction, PCR, barcoding, sequencing) on aphids and endosymbionts, and laboratory cage studies on aphid performance or parasitoid wasp virulence. If you are interested, don’t hesitate to contact me at Helena.Donner@wur.nl.
Land-use dynamics and ecosystem services in an agro-forest frontier in Mexico
Examiner: Prof. Dr. F.J.J.M (Frans) Bongers
Supervisors: Madelon Lohbeck, Lucas Carvalho Gomes, Mathieu Decuyper
Begin date: 2019/01/01
End date: 2021/01/01
Requirements: Fem-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management; REG-31806 Ecological Methods 1
Used Skills: GIS, programming
This Msc thesis is part of the FOREFRONT program which focuses on agro-forest frontier areas. Agro-forest frontiers are the particularly dynamic borders between forested and agricultural land. The program aims is to link the landscape-transforming strategies of the various actors with landscape changes and resulting ecosystem services.
In this Msc project you will focus on the La Sepultura region in Mexico, this is a highly dynamic agro-forest frontier area where smallholder farmers depend on agriculture, timber and NTFPs and live adjacent to the La Sepultura biosphere reserve. Demand for agricultural produce and conservation interests are sometimes conflicting although synergistic landuses have also been developed. You will combine different sources of satellite imagery over time (landsat, google earth) with field data on land uses and ecosystem services to respond to the following question:
How has land use changed in the past decades and what are the consequences for balancing agriculture and conservation in the La Sepultura region in Chiapas, Mexico?
Methods: classifying land uses in different timesteps using Google Earth Engine, R, ArcGIS/ QGIS (this is designed as a desktop study although if there is keen interest it could be combined with fieldwork). (Spatial) statistics on trends over time in landuses and ecosystem services and evaluating trade-offs and synergies. Possibility of field visits for validation.
FOREFRONT research programme:
M.Sc. opportunities: Comparative Social Evolution
Location: Netherlands (WUR)
Period: Between 3 and 7 months, starting any time
Supervision: Sjouke A. Kingma
Bird species differ a lot from each other in appearance and behaviour. What determines this variation? Why do some birds live in groups and others not? Why are some brightly coloured and others not? Why are eggs so different?
Comparative studies, based on published data, are a powerful way to help answering these questions. As part of an ongoing project, you will explore how evolution shaped the enormous variety in patterns and behaviours. This project is especially suitable for a student who wants to go deep into macro- evolutionary patterns. We have some exciting plans, but specifically also welcome your ideas!
More information? Just contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The social savanna project: a bird study in Swaziland
Location: Mbuluzi Game Reserve in Swaziland (southern Africa) (www.mbuluzi.com)
Period: Between 4 and 7 months, starting in June/July or August-October
Supervision: Kat Bebbington & Sjouke A. Kingma (Sjouke.email@example.com)
M.Sc. opportunities: Why do animals cooperate?
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!
More information? Just contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vocal communication and breeding decisions by zebra finches in an unpredictable environment
Begin date: Around May-July 2019
Contact: Hugo Loning (email@example.com) & Marc Naguib (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Want to get away from it all? Are you interested in bird ecology and communication? We are currently looking for a (limited) number of MSc thesis students for next field season in the Australian outback!
To predict how animals will adapt to climate change, it is key to understand how they respond to climatic variability. Species living in unpredictable environments, such as the climatically erratic arid zone of Australia, provide an excellent opportunity to study such adaptations. In this project we will study vocal communication in breeding decisions of wild zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), the world’s most studied lab bird. Differing from the historically studied birds of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, zebra finches are especially interesting because they are not territorial, their song is close-range and they produce songs in many different contexts such as social gatherings. Although we know that their song has a function in mate choice when reaching maturity, why they sing for the rest of their adult life remains unclear.
Fieldwork will take place in Fowlers Gap Arid Zone Research Station (https://www.fowlersgap.unsw.edu.au/) in the Australian Outback from Augustus – December 2019 (however, exact dates and periods are up for discussion). Although zebra finches are the initial focus of this project, we also provide the opportunity to study different (bird) species to facilitate a more comparative approach. Feel free to contact us for more information on this amazing thesis opportunity.
Interactions between insects feeding on leaves and roots.
Do you love plants and insects? Do ecological interactions fascinate you? Would you like to work with different species of insects that interact with each other by feeding on the same host plant? And are you interested in finding mechanisms that could underlie such interactions?
If the answers to the questions above are a firm “Hell yeah!”, then maybe doing a thesis in this project is something for you! We’re studying the effects of leaf feeding herbivores (caterpillars and aphids) on the roots of cabbage plants, and how that affects root feeding herbivores. We focus on greenhouse studies supported by molecular work to unravel the mechanisms behind these interactions, in order to gain new insights in ecology and plant defence in the roots. Since the project is quite broad, students can opt to focus more on the molecular work, or more on greenhouse studies.
If you’re interested, please contact Peter Karssemeijer (email@example.com) for more information.
The success of young fish recruitment in the Rhine River secondary channels
Begin date: March or June 2019
Contact: Twan.Stoffers@wur.nl & Leo.Nagelkerke@wur.nl
For 2019 we are looking for 4 enthusiastic MSc students who are willing to contribute to a big and unique ecological project in the Netherlands: a large-scale quantitative assessment of fish recruitment in secondary channels of the River Rhine. This project, initiated by Rijkswaterstaat aims at the evaluation of different management measures to enhance the populations of rheophilic fishes and the ecological quality of Dutch rivers.
We are interested in how juvenile river fish use floodplain habitats along the rivers IJssel and Waal. Fieldwork in 2019 will focus on assessing fish, macrofauna and zooplankton communities of 3 secondary channels in particular. We will also focus on measuring environmental variables and looking at habitat mosaic of these systems. This provides us with the opportunity to facilitate some amazing student projects with lots of fieldwork during the spring and summer period in 2019. We also have projects for students who are more into labwork or data analysis.
Depending on the exact topic and research question, thesis students are going to participate in weekly fieldwork and laboratory work, do data analysis in R and write up the results in a thesis report. If successful, you will be given the opportunity to co-author the article that will be written about the outcome. If you are interested in this amazing thesis opportunity, please contact one of the supervisors for more information.
Requirements: If you are interested in fish or zooplankton/macrofauna ecology, looking for fieldwork, are good with numbers, and have an independent and inquisitive attitude, this is the project for you! A driver’s license and a working knowledge of Dutch are of good use too.
Tracking the house-entry flights of host-seeking malaria mosquitoes in Malawi, Africa
This study will examine the flight behaviour of the malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae, around houses in semi-field conditions in Malawi, Africa. Using a stereoscopic high-speed videography system, we will track three-dimensional flights of host-seeking mosquitoes around houses. From this we will determine how these mosquitoes find and enter houses while searching for human hosts. The results will be used to adapt house designs in order to minimize human biting by malaria mosquitoes, and consequently the spread of malaria.
This position requires a diverse range of skills. The MSc student will carry out experiments that involve tracking mosquito flight paths using high-speed, high-resolution cameras and advanced, custom-made computer programmes. The student will work closely with study investigators to set up these experiments. The ideal candidate will have an interest in biomechanics, animal behaviour or medical entomology, and have significant experience with computer programming (preferably Python). She/he must be tech-savvy, possess excellent troubleshooting skills and have prior research experience. She/he should be able to work well within a multidisciplinary, international team as well as independently. The data collection will be done over a ~2-month period in Malawi, Africa.
If you are interested, please send an email to the supervisors:
Florian Muijres (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jeroen Spitzen (email@example.com)
Robert McCann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Discovery of taste qualities of beer and other food products using our novel receptomics technology
Recently published work from our group describes a novel sensing technology that has been developed at the lab of the Plant Sciences department Bioscience. See link below
Our bodies express a wide variety of receptors – proteins that detect substances and pass on signals to the cell to which they are linked. We have receptors in our nose and tongue for detecting aromas and flavours, for example, but also for hormones in our intestines which ensure that our intestinal cells take the proper action, such as absorbing or digesting a certain nutrient from the intestine. All these receptor proteins are encoded by genes in our DNA.
In this project the student will prepare DNA chips coding for a range of taste receptors. These DNA chips will be used to create a living cell array in a microfluidic system. This system allows the controlled exposure of samples like beer to the living cell array. Recordings from a fluorescence microscope form the basis for an activation fingerprint that allows us to identify specific taste qualities in the food products.
If you are interested to work in an dynamic lab and have affinity with molecular biology, cell biology and microscopy this project might be what you are looking for. We need master students with independent and inquisitive attitude, who feel at home in the lab but also have basic computer skills and good communication skills. This project provides you with the opportunity to gain hands on experience in many different fields from tissue culture to fluorescence microscopy and data processing. You will be trained in analytical thinking, experimental design and critical reflection.
Are you interested, please contact Margriet Roelse (email@example.com)
Master's degree project in plant genetic engineering.
Available earliest from the September 20th 2018.
Alyona Minina, PhD: alena.minina (@) slu.se
Anna Åsman, PhD: anna.asman (@) slu.se
In our group we are currently focusing on investigating the molecular machinery of plant autophagy. We are looking for a highly motivated student who is interested in joining our group to optimize CRISPR-Cas9 system for knock-in modification of plant genes.
Most of the current plant molecular biology studies still rely on the use of crude genetic engineering tools that dramatically limit the capacity of our research. The recent advances in the use of CRISPR-Cas9 system for plants give very promising results that still require some significant modifications.
In this project we aim to optimize the CRISPR-Cas9 for precise knock-in modification of Arabidopsis genes and use the new tool to make reporter lines for detection of plant autophagy-related (ATG) genes activity.
This project, in general, will open up a broad range of new possibilities for investigating plant gene function and in particular, will make a significant contribution to our understanding of ATG-genes regulation.
- Establish proof of concept constructs for knock-in modification of Arabidopsis thaliana genes in protoplasts
- Create a set of constructs for knock-in modification of genes important for regulation of autophagy in Arabidopsis thaliana
- Participate in establishing transgenic lines by knocking in green fluorescent protein and luciferases into Arabidopsis genome
You will acquire skills in
- Genetic engineering
- Use of CRISPR-Cas9 in plants
- Advanced DNA and protein molecular biology methods
- Advanced confocal microscopy
- Plant transformation
- Handling typical plant model organisms: Arabidopsis thaliana plants and tobacco cell cultures
The queen of bites. Help us catch them!
Supervisors: Tessa Visser MSc, and Dr. Sander Koenraadt
Requirements: at least one of the following courses, ENT-30806, ENT-51306, ENT-30306, ENT-54306
Mosquitoes play a key role in the disease transmission of diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and the recently emerged Zika virus. To prevent mosquito-borne disease it is important to gain more knowledge about the behaviour of these pesky biters.
We are looking for an inventive MSc student to help design a new behavioural assay for capturing Aedes aegypti. This mosquito species is vector of all diseases mentioned above. Aedes aegypti is especially dangerous because it’s preference for human blood. This research will contribute to a PhD project in which the final design will be used in a Biosafety level 3 facility to work with real Zika infected mosquitoes. But first we need to design the assay and gain important baseline information. You will work in a team with enthusiastic entomologists!
Learning outcome: performing behaviour studies, statistical analyses, mosquito rearing, design of experiments
Understanding nutrient cycling in cocoa production systems in Ivory Coast (Theobroma cacao L.)
Supervisors: A. (Ambra) Tosto MSc; Prof. Dr. P.A. (Pieter) zuidema; L. S. (Lotte) Woittiez MSc
Contact: Ambra.firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Requirements: REG-31806 Ecological Methods I or other basic statistics course
Cacao is the most important export crop in west African countries, with Ivory Coast and Ghana producing 70% of the world production, mostly in smallholder plantations. Realized yields however are much less than the potential value calculated for the region. One of the suggested causes of this low yield is poor nutrient availability. To better understand possible nutrient limitations, basic information on nutrient cycling in the cocoa tree is required.
Theobroma cacao is a cauliflorous species with flowers appearing both on the main stem and in the canopy. This project aims to understand and quantify the nutrient content (NPK) of organs of cocoa trees (fruit, leaves, stem, roots) and flows of nutrients (leaf loss, fruit harvest, root turnover) and to use this data to quantify a nutrient balance of cocoa production systems. Some basic information is available already from a previous MSc thesis study.
The project comprises field work with a duration of 2-3 months in the research station of CNRA in Divo, Ivory coast. The field work consists of sample collection from different types of cocoa tissue within a newly set up experiment. Field work will be in November-December 2018 or June-July 2019. In addition, nutrient analyses will be conducted and interpreted, and optionally results may be used to update/expand a simple nutrient cycling model.
Learning outcome: Cocoa nutrient cycling, statistical analyses, field work skills, simple nutrient modelling
Required skills: We are looking for an enthusiastic student, with very good adaptation skills and a working knowledge of French since in the research stations very few people speak English.
Agroforestry/ Ecophysiology /Africa/ Tropical zone
Quantifying the effect of pruning on cocoa (Theobroma cacao) architecture in Ivory Coast
Supervisors: A. (Ambra) Tosto MSc; Prof. Dr. P.A. (Pieter) zuidema; Dr. J.B. (Jochem) Evers
Contact: Ambra.email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Requirements: REG-31806 Ecological Methods I
Cocoa (or cacao) is the most important export crop in west African countries: Ivory Coast and Ghana produce 70% of the world production, mostly by smallholder farmers. Realized yield however falls way below the potential value calculated for the region. Pruning is suggested to be an effective measure to increase yield. It creates a more open canopy with greater penetration of light to lower levels in the cacao crowns. Little is known though about how cocoa responds to pruning and how this changes the 3D architecture of the tree. We are conducting a study on the effects of pruning on the architecture of cacao trees, in which we combine pruning experiments and plant modelling.
This MSc project aims to explore methods to quantify the architecture of cacao trees and capture changes in architecture due to pruning. It will be conducted in an ongoing pruning experiment (first pruning in April 2018) in a 10-year old stand.
Type of work
The project comprises field work for approximately 2 months in the research station of CNRA (National Agricultural Research Centre of Ivory Coast) in Divo, Ivory Coast. Field work will consist of measurements of dimensions (length, diameter) and orientation of stems and (main) branches. This will take place for both pruned and unpruned trees.
Understand and measure tree architecture, understand effects of pruning, statistical analyses, field work skills.
We are looking for an enthusiastic student, with very good adaptation skills and a working knowledge of French since in the research stations very few people speak English.
Agroforestry/ Africa/ Tropical zone
Join the Biodiversity Genomics Team for your internship in subtropical China!
As a Wageningen Biologist (graduated 2005), it is my pleasure to send out this invitation to BVW for internship applications! I am leading the Biodiversity Genomics Team at Guangxi University, hosted at the Plant Ecophysiology and Evolution Group (College of Forestry).
Within the Team we conduct research on some of the largest families of tropical trees which are complex clusters of young, closely related species with often poorly defined morphologies. Our goal is to quantify and assess patterns of genomic diversity, to unravel evolutionary relationships, reconstruct historical biogeography, speciation patterns and describe trends in assembly of the tropical forest biome. To this end, we apply the latest NextGen sequencing techniques, bioinformatics and technological advances (e.g. DoveTail, Nanopore). We don’t concern us with PCR-based single marker approaches but focus explicitly on collecting and sequencing on a large scale, targeting organellar genomes and specific whole genomes in key lineages. Our research involves extensive molecular laboratory work, computer analyses and bioinformatics, and periodical fieldwork in protected areas, botanical gardens and the permanent forest plot system of Guangxi University.
The Team has a growing herbarium collection of tropical tree specimens (BGT herbarium) which is under active construction (data basing/digitizing). A taxonomic angle to your internship is certainly possible, in combination with a molecular/genomic component.
During your internship, you will be exposed to all the aspects of the work we do, from fieldwork to the lab to learning how to write scripts and analyze data using genomic software. For us as a Team, our goal is to get you to leave at the end of your internship with one submitted article. So far, all Team members have succeeded in publishing in their first year, and given the amount of data available, this is a feasible target!
In principle, multiple positions are available, for periods of 3-6 months. Exact topics can be discussed via email. Housing is available through Guangxi University on our large Nanning City campus. Unfortunately, travel funding to cover your flight is not available. I recommend approaching funding bodies like the Wageningen University Fund, to apply for a travel grant. I was fortunate to obtain this when studying in Wageningen for a Philippines-based MSc.
Nanning is a large city (~5 million) and the new subway makes getting around easy. It is nicknamed “the Green City” and has a subtropical climate, with warm-hot summers and mild winters. The new international airport gets you to almost every regional Asian capital. By road, you can get to Hanoi or the coast in about 3-4 hours. Hong Kong is about 2 hours by plane.
Guangxi University is based on a very large and green campus, with about 20,000 students. Almost everyone lives on the campus and everything you need for daily life is available on site or near one of the campus gates (restaurants, fast food and coffee). Life in Nanning is not expensive – a meal at one of the 15! canteens on campus will set you back 1-3 euro.
The Team currently consists of 4 postdocs, 2 MSc and one PhD student. The College of Forestry is unique in Guangxi University for the cluster of foreign professors leading research teams staring in 2014. Since then, six teams have emerged with different backgrounds, and now we have a stable population of 35-40 (Chinese and foreign) faculty, postdocs, PhD and MSc students. In my team I have people from France, Spain, the US, Serbia, Ecuador, India and China. Other groups have members of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Colombia, Madagascar, Malaysia and Cyprus, making our community highly diverse and dynamic. Daily language within the teams is English.
A picture impression of life on campus and some facilities is available here: http://www.plant-ecophysiology-evolution.com/contact-us/
If you’d like to learn more about coming to China and joining the Team for your internship, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org , and let’s see what we can do! We look forward to hearing from you.
Joeri Sergej Strijk
Biodiversity Genomics Team
Guangxi University, Nanning, China