Movement ecology meets disease ecology
Movement ecology is a rapidly growing research field studying the patterns, mechanisms, causes and consequences of movement phenomena exhibited by organisms. While our understanding of animal movements from small scale foraging activities to large scale seasonal migrations is constantly increasing, still little is known about how infections and diseases may affect these movements. Pathogens and parasites are well known to exert negative effects on their hosts and these in turn may lead to changes in movement speed, direction or more complex patterns.
This project will investigate the effects of parasite infections on movement patterns of common benthic invertebrates in coastal waters, e.g. crabs infected with the rhizocephalan Sacculina carcini (see picture) or snails and mussels infected with trematodes or parasitic copepods. In experimental arenas, you will compare the movement patterns of infected and uninfected individuals using video recordings and dedicated automated software. This MSc project will thus involve a combination of field work to collect animals, controlled infections, laboratory experiments and sophisticated video analyses techniques.
The detailed content of the project will be tailored to the personal interests of MSc students and will also depend on the season.
Period: approximately 6 months