Project proposal details

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Project title
Non-invasive monitoring of stress hormone in captive Eidolon helvum colony before and after a blood sampling event
Contact name
Louise Gibson / Andrew Cunningham
Project based at
Zoological Society of London
Project description
The Eidolon helvum fruit bat (Straw coloured fruit bat) is found to exist throughout sub Saharan Africa. Since 2007, the Bats & Bugs project has been studying this species and their link to zoonotic viruses and spillover. In 2009/2010 a research colony was established in captivity. The facility which houses the bat colony exists on the grounds of Accra Zoo, Accra, Ghana where they are cared for by trained keepers.
The steroid hormone, cortisol regulates a wide range of process throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. It also has the important role in helping the body respond to stress. For this reason, is widely used, as an indicator of stress in many animal species. Cortisol can be detected in blood, saliva, urine and faeces. Faeces is non-invasive and can therefore be a good source for monitoring stress.
Stress has been implicated as a potential driver for viral shedding therefore investigation into this Eidolon helvum research colony could be interesting.
The project will involve:
• Travel and fieldwork in Ghana for collecting faeces from under roosts
• Lab work, training and competent use of ELISA assay

Additional requirements
• Fundraising on a crowdsourcing platform may be required. • Ability to work in hot environments. • Good organisation and attention to detail. • Good record keeping. • Willingness to work with others and independently.
Available support
access to laboratory resources in Ghana and training
Date uploaded

Project proposal limitations

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Research project proposals are usually part of an active research programme. If supervisors have stated limitations to a proposal, then they are unlikely to have any flexibility. If you are very interested in the topic but have problems with the stated limitations, the supervisor may still be happy to talk to you about other options around the proposal, but you should not expect that any alternative arrangements can be made.

Project length limitations
3.5 months
Available date limitations
Spring (April-May)
Suitable for
Ecology Evolution and Conservation, Taxonomy and Biodiversity [NHM MSc]