Recently it has been discovered that Black Larks, living on the Eurasian steppes in Kazakhstan, transport dung to their nests to build large 'pavements' . Weird and almost dirty behaviour, but what is the use of it? This spring a team of researchers from the Universities of Wageningen and Münster and the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan (ACBK) will try to answer this question, doing fieldwork in the Korgalzhyn area in Kazakhstan. On this blog we will post on our findings and adventures.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Back in the office

After a nice field season in Kazakhstan, we're all back at home. Johannes and Thijs have been working together on the analysis in Münster and are almost finished! Now the last parts of the analysis will have to be done and then the writing can start. We have a lot to write about, so it will take some time. If you are curious about the (first) results, please visit us at the DO-G Annual Conference at the University of Regensburg, Germany (2-7 Oktober). We will give a presentation on Sunday afternoon (6th of Oktober)! Another talk is planned at the 30th of November on the Annual Day of Sovon, the Dutch Centre of Field Ornithology in Ede, The Netherlands.

Next to the analysis of the data, we have started a new experiment. To see whether dung has an effect on the nest temperature, we have created artificial nests with plastic cups. We've placed these cups in the soil. We've placed dung around some nests and nothing around others. In this way we exclude all other factors such as vegetation. To measure temperature, we've placed the temperature loggers in these cups for three days, as we did in Korgalzhyn. We'll see how it goes!

Johannes and Thijs are analysing the data. Johannes is very pleased with the results!
We've collected fresh horse dung from the local riding school. As it was fresh, we had to dry it.
The roof of the university building is suitable for experiments. Here we have put trays of soil with the artificial nest cups in it.
An this is how the artificial nest cups with dung look like. The loggers are placed in the middle of the cup.

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