Thesis subject

Combining the recording of behavior and energy expenditure in birds using 3D accelerometry, heart rate, and respirometry

Technological advancements open up exciting new possibilities for ecological research. We are now able to track a bird for a long period of time and make frequent measurements of its location, behavior and heart rate. We are working on the frontier of these new developments, where we try to combine behavioral measurements with measurements of energy expenditure. This can give us new insights in the behavioral adaptations of birds and the related energetics.

We aim to estimate behavior by recording body acceleration on 3 axes. By relating the patterns on these 3 acceleration axes to different types of behavior (e.g. walking, foraging, resting etc.), we intend to classify acceleration measurements into different behaviors.
Simultaneously we will collect heart rate data, which can give us some insight in how much energy is used during a particular activity. In order to relate heart rate to energy expenditure, calibration is necessary. We aim to use the rate of oxygen consumption (measured under lab conditions) to estimate the energy expenditure related to different heart rates.

We offer a Master student project focusing on the combination of these techniques. The activities would involve the use of a flock of captive barnacle geese, in which we record behavior and heart rate. The same flock can be used to collect information on the relation between heart rate and oxygen consumption rate. By calibrating the collected data, questions on the relation between heart rate (energy expenditure) and different types of behavior can be answered.

This study is part of a collaborative project between the Experimental Zoology Group and the NIOO (Wageningen).

Examiner: prof.dr. Johan van Leeuwen
Supervisors: Florian Muijres
Götz Eichhorn, PhD
Chiel Boom, MSc
Contact: Florian Muijres (via contact form)
Credits: 36 ECTS
Begin date: 2019-08-01
Requirements: You should have keen interest in animal behavior and technology