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Larks from deserts, tropics and temperate zones

Tieleman group - Research

The lark family (Alaudidae) globally encompasses about 90 closely related species that have distinct life history, physiological and behavioral adaptations in different environments. Our past work revealed that compared with temperate zone larks, species in deserts live life at a “slow pace”: low energy and water turnover, relatively small and few clutches, and apparently high survival rates and relatively large investments in self-maintenance (see publications). These “desert traits” resemble proposed, but poorly substantiated, life history attributes of tropical birds... How do tropical larks compare? We study larks in environments varying from hyperarid deserts (Saudi Arabia, Mauritania), to relatively wet temperate zones (the Netherlands), and since 2008 expanded to include semi-arid tropics (Kenya)!

Current work includes studies of

  • seasonal patterns of immune function and energetics in different environments
  • immune function as evolved component of the physiology-life history nexus
  • seasonal carry-over effects of body condition in individuals
  • mechanisms linking energetics and immune function
  • body temperature dynamics of free-living hoopoe larks in the desert

Collaborators: Pieter van Veelen, Stéphanie Grizard, Arne Hegemann, Nick Horrocks, Henry Ndithia, Muchai Muchane, Mohammed Shobrak, Joe Williams, and others

lark environments and nests
lark environments and nests
Last modified:17 May 2019 2.06 p.m.