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Vogeltrekstation (NIOO‐KNAW) in Wageningen offers a student internship where you will analyse survival of blackbirds in relation to the occurence of the novel Usutu virus.

The Usutu virus is a novel, originally tropical virus, that has become established in Europe recently. In the Netherlands, the virus was first discoverd in our passive monitoring in April 2016. In September 2016 and July 2017, massive outbreaks of the virus occurred in the Southeastern parts of the Netherlands, killing many thousands of blacbirds Turdus merula. The passive monitoring indicates that the virus is still active and spreading. A new, third outbreak is anticipated.

More than 1000 live blackbirds have been monitored for presence of the virus so far, and prevalence is c.5%. You will analyse virus prevalence in time and space and try to identify correlates of virus prevalence (bird sex, age, morphology, condition etc.) in the blackbird population.

There is widespread evidence that the virus has profound effects on the population dynamics of blackbirds. You will perform detailed analyses of variation in blackbird survival in time and space in relation to presence / absence of the virus and before / after the introduction (BACO approach).

The project can be done as an internship or a MsC thesis. Successful applicants for this internship / thesis will be expected to have some affinity with the analysis of large datasets and an interest in capture‐recapture analyses. Some experience with R is a bonus. The students will be integrated in the highly active Animal Ecology group of the NIOO, attending literature discussions and seminars.

Contact: Henk van der Jeugd

Time frame: 4-6 months, starting date as soon as possible. download as pdf