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.

The Team

Thijs Fijen
Twenty-two years old and about to graduate as a Msc Forest and Nature Conservation at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Thijs is a fanatic birdwatcher and field ecologist with a good knowledge of many species. During his study and spare time he has gained expertise in fieldwork and scientific research in observational and experimental research. In spare time he spends much time in recording bird and other nature sounds.

Thomas Lameris
Twenty-five years old and recently graduated as Msc Forest and Nature Conservation at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, Thomas is an enthousiastic field ecologist and birdwatcher. He has a specific interest in the former Soviet region and has also learned the Russian language. During his study he has been doing research projects in Russia, Canada and Oman where he mainly worked on birds but also vegetation ecology.

Johannes Kamp
Johannes has a long-standing interest in the ecology of steppe birds. He has been involved in several conservation and research projects in Kazakhstan over the last ten years while he was working with RSPB and ACBK, most notably the Sociable Lapwing project. Johannes is now based at the University of Münster, where his research focuses on the implications of land-use changes for biodiversity in countries of the former Soviet Union.

Ruslan Urazaliev
Ruslan is an expert on steppe birds, birdwatcher and photographer. He is originally from Western Kazakhstan, but works for ACBK in Astana. Ruslan is the coordinator of the ongoing Sociable Lapwing project in Kazakhstan, and has been involved in the inventory and monitoring of IBAs in Kazakhstan. Building on first experiences from 2011, he will be the local research counterpart of the Black Lark project in Korgalzhyn.

Dr Paul F Donald is Principal Conservation Scientist in the International Research Team of the RSPB, and is also Editor-in-Chief of the international ornithological journal Ibis. He works on a wide range of issues but is most interested in the conservation ecology of endangered species, with a particular focus on larks. He wrote a monograph on the Skylark and is currently working on a handbook of the world's larks. Paul has worked on lark ecology and conservation in Europe, Central Asia, Ethiopia, Cape Verde and South Africa, but the Black Lark is probably his favourite bird!

Genrietta (Gera) Pulikova
Gera recently graduated with a BSc in Ecology from the University of Karagandy, Central Kazakhstan. As a student, she supported ACBK in several projects (such as the Altyn Dala project), focusing on abundance estimates of steppe and semi-desert birds using Distance Sampling. She also participated in an important CLP-project estimating numbers of birds electrocuted at power lines on the steppes of Kazakhstan in 2011. Gera will join the team for fieldwork in May 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I'm the redactor of the website and we'd like to publish an article about the use of dungs by black larks: would it be possible to use one or two pictures from your blog? Naturally we would credit it and present your blog. Regards David Bismuth (pelase use the following e-mail to answer me: