Heart rate in embryos and adults of the common tern
|Required education||No prior experience with birds or fieldwork is required|
|Starting date||May 2016 (at the latest)|
|Specifics||The student will be responsible for organising and collecting heart rate data of embryos and adults, and will participate in general fieldwork in the colony|
Everything that individuals do involves the utilisation of limited energy. Energy expenditure may therefore be central to evolutionary fitness. Heart rate provides a non-invasive measurement that can be used to estimate energy expenditure of free-living animals. In this study we want to apply non-invasive tools to measure heart rate in individual embryos and adults of the common tern. Specific goals are to assess the feasibility and reliability of methods, link heart rate to development speed and subsequent survival of embryos under standardized conditions, and link it to age, reproductive performance and physiological state (e.g. telomere length) in incubating adults.
Common terns are long-lived seabirds that breed in colonies. With an international team of researchers a large breeding colony of common terns (>500 pairs) is studied in the ‘Bantersee’ near Wilhelmshaven, Germany. All philopatric individuals in this population are transponder-marked, which allows non-invasive identification with an antenna around the nest during incubation (see picture). Heart-rate recorders in artificial eggs can be used to measure heart rate during incubation in adults. Embryonic heart rate can be measured non-invasively in eggs (see picture). Environmental conditions of embryos can be standardized by artificial incubation in digital incubators, after which hatchlings can be successfully returned to their natural parents.
We are searching for an independent and dedicated MSc student who can start at the latest in May 2016. The student will be responsible for organising and collecting heart rate data of embryos and adults, and will participate in general fieldwork in the colony. Because the common terns in the breeding colony are habituated to research, fieldwork will involve a lot of close interaction with the birds. No prior experience with birds or fieldwork is required.
|Last modified:||10 January 2017 10.05 p.m.|