Master Biologie


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: If you're searching for a PhD or internship, then scroll to the end of this page.



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 or 



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 


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:



Forest Ecology and Forest Management (FEM)

Wind or insects? Who do really pollinate Mauritia?

Sustainable fruit harvesting from a giant Amazonian palm: Mauritia flexuosa in Ecuador

Understanding how pruning affects flowering and fruiting intensity and pattern in cocoa trees ( Theobroma cacao L. ).



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 and/or see:



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:




PhD en Stages

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!



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 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:,


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 ( 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.