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Project work

You may do two one-term projects, each amounting to about 80 hours of practical work and analysis, or one two-term project (about 160 hours). A two-term project is normally undertaken during the Michaelmas and Lent Terms, the exact timetable being established by discussion with the supervisor.

You all have the option to start a project during the Summer vacation on the basis of either work done in a research laboratory or fieldwork done on the field course or elsewhere (note that you may start only one project during the summer). The work may be developed into a project during the Michaelmas and/or Lent Term, under the guidance of a 'home' supervisor within the department, and submitted for the examination. If you wish to use vacation work in a project, you must discuss your summer plans before departure with a home supervisor within the department, except for those of you who begin field projects on the field course, who will be supervised by staff present on that course.

Two modules (M1, L1) carry with them demonstration practicals following the lectures; the demonstration practicals from one of the modules may be used in place of one short project.


Some recent publications arising from student projects

(Part II student in bold, supervisor in italics):

Ferguson L, Green J, Surridge A and Jiggins CD (2010)  Evolution of the insect yellow gene family.  Molecular Biology and Evolution p. 192.

Rodrigues ASL, Gray CL, Crowter BJ, Ewers RM, Stuart SN, Whitten T and Manica A (2010)  A Global Assessment of Amphibian Taxonomic Effort and Expertise.  Bioscience 24: 1510-1518.

Coad L, Abernethy K, Balmford A, Manica A, Airey L and Milner-Gulland EJ (2010)  Bushmeat, wealth and gender: the distribution and use of bushmeat incomes in a rural village, Central Gabon.  Conservation Biology 60: 798-806.

Walker DS, Vazquez-Manrique RP, Fower NJD, Gregory E, Schafer WR and Baylis HA (2009) Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate signalling regulates the avoidance response to nose touch in Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS Genet 5(9): e1000636. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000636.

Stevens M , Graham J, Winney IS, Cantor A (2008) Testing Thayer's hypothesis: can camouflage work by distraction? Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B (published online).

Evans SR , Finnie M, Manica A (2007) Shoaling preferences in decapod crustacea. Animal Behaviour 74: 1691-1696.

Hallett TB , Coulson T, Pilkington JG, Clutton-Brock TH, Pemberton JM, Grenfell BT (2004) Why large-scale climate indices seem to predict ecological processes better than local weather. Nature 430: 71-75


Long Vacation Field Course

Organiser:   Professor Bill Amos 

Likely dates:  22nd August to 2nd September 2015

The aim of the course at Holt is to introduce students to field research in animal behaviour and ecology, including the collection of quantitative observational data, the design of field and laboratory experiments, and data analysis using statistics and computers.  The north Norfolk coast provides us with an excellent variety of animals and habitats in a beautiful setting, including foreshore, coastal dunes, saltmarshes, freshwater, heaths and woodland.  Holt Hall itself is set in wonderful grounds with mixed woodland, open pastures, meadows and two lakes.

For the bulk of the course, students will do projects (usually in pairs).  These cover a variety of topics such as foraging in wading birds (oystercatchers, redshank, turnstones), gulls and terns, web building and fighting in spiders, habitat segregation in dune grasshoppers, biodiversity in salt marsh pools, tidal rhythms in saltmarsh invertebrates, foraging and recruitment in wood ants, and social behaviour in fallow deer.  There will be lectures on experimental design and data analysis, and instruction in the use of statistical packages, so that students are able to analyse the data they collect during the projects.  Demonstrators are on hand throughout to assist and advise on all aspects of the project work.  The results obtained are expected to be used as a part of the requirement for the assessed projects


Laboratory Research Positions

Organiser : Dr Torsten Krude

Some of you may already have arranged to do vacation projects over the summer. This experience will serve as preparation for, or as part of, the Part II project work. If you are interested in summer vacation work, it is strongly advisable to be proactive and to start finding a host laboratory as early as possible. If you have any questions about summer projects, please contact Dr Torsten Krude.