Master Biology


Here you will find several Master theses. The newest theses are at the top of the list. If you can’t find what you want, you might find it at this site: http://tip.wur.nl. If you're searching for a PhD or internship, then scroll to the end of this page.

Thesis

 

The queen of bites. Help us catch them!

Master Thesis

33-36 credits

Supervisors: Tessa Visser MSc, and Dr. Sander Koenraadt

Contact: tessa.visser@wur.nl

 

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

 

Ecosystem Services Valuation in Lacandon Jungle, Mexico

39 credits

Supervisors: FEM group: Frans Bongers & Carolina Berget. 

Other organasation: dr Gerard Verschoor -SDG

Contact: Frans.Bongers@wur.nl

Duration: Second half 2018 till Spring 2019

Requirements: Standard for MSc thesis: FEM-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management; Or equivalent / Preferably also Social science methods

 

The general problem:

The search for alternatives to reconcile tradeoffs between biodiversity conservation, agricultural production and local livelihoods relies, among other things, on the understanding of what are the most valued ecosystem services.

 

The research consortia:

The FOREFRONT project, a joint initiative between Wageningen University, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), El Colegio de la Frontera Sur in Mexico, and the Universidad de Minas Gerais in Brasil is exploring these topics for the case of tropical forests in Chiapas, Mexico.

 

MScThesis:

A MSc thesis can be undertaken within this context to assess what are the most valued ecosystem services by the local farmers in the Marques de Comillas Municipality in Chiapas Mexico.

 

Field Methods:

 

A standard protocol will be followed to undertake approx. 30 individual interviews to farmers from different locations within the study area. 

The individual interviews will depart from a fixed list of ecosystem services elaborated by the FOREFRONT team, and depicted into individual drawings by a graphic designer. Each interviewee will be asked to order the services from the most to the least important and to explain the reasons for this ordering. Basic socioeconomic information will be requested from each interviewee.

 

Analytical methods:

The resulting flipchart will be digitized and the position of each service will be used as a metric of its importance. The reasons associated to the choices will be analyzed using qualitative analyses. General patterns as well as differences among communities and types of interviewees will be explored.

 

Who can participate:

 

Students with very diverse backgrounds in biological sciences, environmental sciences, anthropology, sociology, economics, geography, rural development, philosophy are most welcome. Students need to be 100% proficient in spoken and written Spanish and be willing to live in rural tropical humid areas.

 

 

Effects of grazing and enhanced nutrients on the ecosystem services, resilience and competitive abilities of native and invasive seagrass.

Master thesis or internship

30, 33, 36 credits

Supervisors: F.O.H. Smulders (Fee.Smulders@wur.nl)

Contact info: Marine Ecology: Noël Diepens 0317-489701 (Noel.Diepens@wur.nl)

Begin date: September/October/November 2018

End date: 5 or 6 months after the begin date

 

In this project, you will research the impact of grazing and nutrients on the ecosystem services and the resilience (ability to recover from disturbance) of seagrass. As an invasive seagrass species (H. stipulacaea) is spreading in Bonaire, we also want to study competition between native (T. testudinum) and invasive seagrass. You will be part of a large Caribbean wide project on turtlegrass. Additionally, there are many options to design and carry out side experiments of your choice.

Used skills: Scientific diving, designing ecological experiments, nutrient analysis in the lab.

Requirements: Diving certificate (min. 30 dives), driver's license.

 

 

Understanding nutrient cycling in cocoa production systems in Ivory Coast (Theobroma cacao L.)

Master Thesis

33-36 credits

Supervisors: A. (Ambra) Tosto MSc; Prof. Dr. P.A. (Pieter) zuidema; L. S. (Lotte) Woittiez MSc

Contact: Ambra.tosto@wur.nl; pieter.zuidema@wur.nl; lotte.woittiez@wur.nl

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

Master Thesis

33-36 credits

Supervisors: A. (Ambra) Tosto MSc; Prof. Dr. P.A. (Pieter) zuidema; Dr. J.B. (Jochem) Evers

Contact: Ambra.tosto@wur.nl; pieter.zuidema@wur.nl; jochem.evers@wur.nl

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. 

 

Learning outcome

Understand and measure tree architecture, understand effects of pruning, statistical analyses, field work skills. 

 

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/ 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 jsstrijk@hotmail.com , and let’s see what we can do! We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Joeri Sergej Strijk

Associate Professor

Biodiversity Genomics Team

 

Guangxi University, Nanning, China

 

 

Racing pigeons 

Racing (or homing) pigeons are a sort of animal athletes. The flight performance of these birds depends on both their orientation abilities and their speed. Many aspects of a bird's life (e.g., age, experience, health status) and environment (weather, landscape features) can influence either or both elements of flight performance. In this study, you will work with racing pigeon enthusiasts who are affiliated with the Nederlandse Postduivenhouders Organisatie (NPO) and the Werkgroep Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Welzijn Duiven (WOWD). Pigeons wearing GPS recorders will be flown repeatedly over different trajectories and/or under different conditions.  For more info, contact fred.deboer@wur.nl or kevin.matson@wur.nl. 

 

 

Population viability of an endangered tree species in tropical China

Parashorea chinensis is a red-listed, endangered tropical forest tree, occurring in Southern China (Yunnan province) and Northern Vietnam. To assist in the conservation of this emergent tree species (which reaches up to 80 m in height), it would be helpful to know the viability of remaining populations. One of these remaining populations is located in Xishuangbanna region, Yunnan. In this area, a research institute (Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden) of the Chinese Academy of Science has established a 20-ha plot (400 × 500 m). The forest is dominated by Parashorea chinensis and all trees of 1 cm and bigger in diameter at breast height (dbh) in the 20-ha plot were tagged and measured. Repeated measurements have been conducted to estimate rates of growth, surival and recruitment. In this project you will answer the following questions: (1) what are estimated ages for this endangered species? (2) is the population in the 20-ha plot projected to increase or decrease over the coming decades? (3) what are the most important stages and vital rates in for the population? You will perform some field work to evaluate tree reproduction, spend time at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden institute and perform matrix modelling analyses at Wageningen University. For more information, see http://tip.wur.nl/Project.php?ProjectID=3774 

 

 

Wildlife, ticks and cattle in South Africa

Both cattle and wildlife are affected by ticks and tick-borne disease. Several environmental factor are important that drive tick infestation risk, such as grass cover and microclimatic conditions. Yet, it is unclear whether wildlife accelerates tick risk for cattle or vice versa. Moreover, we still do not fully understand why tick densities are relatively low on areas with a high grazing pressure. We are therefore starting a new research project in conservation areas in South Africa to investigate these patterns in spring and summer 2018. Interested? Contact: fred.deboer@wur.nl

 

 

Forest Ecology and Forest Management (FEM)

 

Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation Group

Are you interested in plant ecology, but also plant pathology?  This project combines the best of these fields! In nature there is a huge diversity of plants in grasslands (up to 89 species per m2!), but how is this maintained? Belowground pathogens are thought to be drivers of these diversity patterns, but we have yet to zoom in on the actual mechanisms. If we can better understand how this is regulated, we can also apply this knowledge to improve agricultural practices, where typically plant diversity is very low (monocultures) and disease pressure is high!

 

You will investigate potential belowground mechanisms of fungal root pathogens driving plant diversity. Depending on your own interests there are various options to design, perform, and analyse your own experiments with plants and fungi in climate chambers.

 

For more information, contact eline.ampt@wur.nl and/or see:

tip.wur.nl/Project.php?ProjectID=3558

 

 

Molecular ecology and live-bearing fish – several projects

Relevant research questions:

o Does multiple paternity occur in placental fish species? And in other live-bearing fish species?

o Is multiple paternity facilitated by superfetation (i.e. multiple broods in different developmental stages)?

o How do environmental pressures (e.g. water visibility, predator regime) influence polyandry in placental fish?

 

For more info see: http://www.wur.nl/en/article/Student-projects-Molecular-Ecology-Live-bearing-fish.htm

 

 

 


PhD and Internships

Dümmen Orange

Dümmen Orange is an international plant breeding company that focuses on cut flowers, pot plants, bedding plants and more. Dümmen Orange is offering two internships, one is Genetics Intern, the other is Laboratory Intern. For more information click internship names.

 

MSD Internships 

Merck Animal Health is one of the world's leading companies in the field of veterinary medicines. MSD Animal Health develops and manufactures vaccines and drugs for farm animals, pets and fish. We have offices in over 50 countries and sell our products in more than 140 markets in which we operate in a network of production and R & D sites around the world.

MSD is characterized by an open culture with lots of room for initiative. Your development is central in this internship, but we also want to learn from you!

 

There are a couple of internships available at the moment:

Download
Intern virus discovery / vaccine development
MSD stage Ad de Groof.docx
Microsoft Word document 43.3 KB
Download
Intern Molecular Virology
MSD stage Martijn Langereis.doc
Microsoft Word document 77.5 KB
Download
Intern Poultry Research and Development Department
MSD stage Mateusz Walczak.doc
Microsoft Word document 80.5 KB
Download
Intern Department Discovery & Technology-Analysis
MSD stage Urs Bruderer.doc
Microsoft Word document 87.0 KB

Information & Application:

Are you interested in this internship, email your cover letter and resume to gwen.munten@merck.com.

 

For more information about the internships, please contact at the above e-mail or by phone: 0485- 587 5087.

 

 

Stage verstoring grote stern en visdief, Bureau Waardenburg

Als onderdeel van de uitbreiding van de Haven van Rotterdam is in 2009 de Tweede Maasvlakte gebouwd. Dit heeft effecten op diverse soorten vogels waaronder grote sterns en visdieven. Om deze effecten te compenseren zijn diverse maatregelen getroffen, waaronder het instellen van rustgebieden. Ecologisch Adviesbureau Bureau Waardenburg voert sinds 2009 onderzoek uit naar de effectiviteit van deze maatregelen.

 

In het voorjaar van 2018 gaan wij kijken naar het gebruik van de rustgebieden (stranden en zandplaten uit de kust) door grote sterns en visdieven, en gaan we proberen om verstoringsafstanden te meten. Hiervoor zoeken wij een gemotiveerde student die het leuk vind om een combinatie van veldwerk, literatuurstudie en (ruimtelijke) analyses te gaan doen. Je gaat met een ervaren team de zee op, op zoek naar rustende sterns en zult daarnaast (lange) dagen van observaties gaan uitvoeren op verschillende stranden. Een goede conditie is dus een vereiste. En verder is het van belang dat je een goede kennis van de Nederlandse vogels hebt, en je zelfstandig in staat bent om een visdief van een grote stern te onderscheiden.

 

Ben je vanaf begin maart beschikbaar? En heb je zin om een stage te lopen in een toegepast wetenschappelijk setting? Stuur dan snel een mail naar r.fijn@buwa.nl!

 

 

Stagemogelijkheden bij de Vlinderstichting

Er zijn weer vele nieuwe stages en afstudeervakken beschikbaar bij de Vlinderstichting.  Wil jij weten welke stages dit zijn? Kijk dan in de onderwijsbrochure 2017-2018 voor de lijst. Deze lijst is te vinden op www.vlinderstichting.nl. Studenten kunnen ook een voorstel doen voor een eigen project, als dit binnen het werkgebied van De Vlinderstichting valt.

 

 

Ecosystem service assessment of polluted waterways: Towards theoretically well-embedded practical tools for water managers

Level: Master

Project duration: 6 months

Project form: Literature review / Data analysis

Supervision: Leonie Lautz, Jan Hendriks

Mail addresses: L.Lautz@science.ru.nl, A.J.Hendriks@science.ru.nl

 

The INTERREG project “Sullied sediments” seeks to asses and improve polluted waterways in the North Sea region (UK, D, B, NL) by developing monitoring and remediation techniques (http://northsearegion.eu/sullied-sediments/). In addition to several “standard” indicators for water and sediment quality, current and future status should be expressed in monetary units to weigh ecological against other (e.g., hydrological) benefits and remediation costs. While ecosystems services in wetlands are known to be high (e.g., Costanza et al. 1997), most assessments of waterways have been limited to eutrophication, physical reconstruction and related issues (Koopman et al. submitted). Expression of ecological benefits (or ecosystem services in a stricter sense) due to remediation of contaminated waterways in financial terms is rare (e.g., Backhaus et al. 2012). Yet, preliminary monetarization methods are becoming available (Brouwer 2004, Brouwer et al. 2008, Oosterhuis and Brouwer 2015).

 

So far, this has not yielded theoretically well-embedded and practically frequently used tool to assess waterway pollution. Hence, the aim of the present project is to derive a methodology to estimate ecosystem services as a function of changes in chemical concentrations and biological indicators (such as species richness and ecosystems functions). The number and kind of ecosystems services (fish and wood production, water purification, system stability etc.) to be included depends on the reliability of the methods used as well as on the input required.

 

To this end, you will first review literature to derive approaches that are frequently applied and theoretically well-embedded. Second, you will select a few promising approaches requiring input that is available to water managers. Third, you will apply the approaches to a few actual cases of sediment pollution and subsequent remediation in Western-Europe. Fourth, if allowed by time, you will compare the estimated benefits to the costs as well as to other (e.g., navigation, hydraulic) benefits.

 

The preferred outcome would be a set of rules, equations or numbers that allow a water manager to express reduction of chemical concentrations and/or improvements observed in toxicological assay and ecological field surveys in terms of financial benefits.