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Tropical grassland birds in Kenya

Tieleman group - Research

Seasonal dynamics of reproductive strategies and disease in tropical grassland birds living in habitats highly threatened by land use changes

Without day length changes as photoperiodic cues, tropical birds respond to other environmental factors to time their breeding activities. Compared with temperate regions, tropical areas have relatively constant environmental conditions yearround. When food is available throughout the year, birds may not time their breeding to co-occur with the food peak. Yet, breeding in tropical areas with well defined dry and wet seasons may occur seasonally.

We examine the causes and consequences of variation in reproductive strategies of tropical birds living in highly threatened Kenyan grasslands. We study reproductive strategies of two lark species in light of environmental patterns and physiological adaptations. This sheds light on how birds cope with different and changing environments on long-term, evolutionary and short-term, ecological time scales.

We seek to understand how the level of immune function varies throughout the year, at times when many individuals breed, some breed and none breed. We are also interested in how disease risk and immune response are associated with differences in reproductive strategies of birds in different environments. We aim to link reproduction to year-round environmental variation in the tropics and assess the mechanisms that reproducing and non-reproducing tropical birds use to thwart disease.

Collaborators: Henry Ndithia, Muchai Muchane (National Museums of Kenya), Samuel Bakari, Dominic Kimani (Friends of Kinangop Plateau) and others

Kenyan larks and field sites
Kenyan larks and field sites
Last modified:17 May 2019 2.06 p.m.