undergraduate research opportunity in Kenya
We seek highly motivated undergraduates to participate in a carnivore research program in Kenya funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). The program will support a few undergraduate students for 8 weeks in June-August, 2012. Students will participate in on-going research in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya.
There are 2 projects that will be available for participation during summer, 2012:
1. Spotted hyenas and ecosystem health. The spotted hyena is the most abundant and wide-ranging large carnivore in Africa. In addition to their plasticity in regard to habitat choice, hyenas are extremely adaptable
carnivores that can survive by scavenging or hunting large and medium-sized herbivores. Where many other mammalian species occupying African ecosystems cannot readily adapt to changing environmental conditions, the
spotted hyena is able to thrive. Using the spotted hyena as an indicator for changing African ecosystems, we may be able to predict changes and modify conservation practices before it is too late.
*** Work this summer will involve running transects to document space use patterns of sympatric mammal, monitoring of hyena space-use via radio telemetry, and daily monitoring of hyena behavior and demography.
2. Maternal strategies and offspring development. The spotted hyena displays a protracted period of development characterized by extensive maternal care and marked by distinct developmental milestones. This project explores first, how maternal behavior and physiology vary with social rank and degree of human disturbance and second, what the consequences of anthropogenic disturbance may be for the development of spotted hyena cubs. Previous
research indicates that adult females in areas of high disturbance show higher stress levels and lower attendance at communal dens where cubs are reared.
*** Work this summer will include collection of focal and all-occurrence behavioral data, organization and analysis of demographic and hormonal data, and development of field experiments to measure temperament/personality.
Travel costs (airline tickets, room, board, Kenyan visa, etc.) will be covered by NSF funds, and students will also receive a stipend of $2500.