Venture Grant: Tanzania: Spike-heeled Lark
September 12, 1996
VENTURE GRANT PROPOSAL
During the fall semester of 1995, I received credit for my work with the School for International Training. This college semester abroad program dealt with wildlife conservation and ecology in Tanzania, a country in East Africa. One of my classes was an independent study project which included a one month research period and a thirty page research paper. I chose to focus my research on the Spike-heeded Lark. This bird is found throughout southern Africa, and then once again 3000 miles north in an isolated region of northern Tanzania. The bird was brought to my attention by two of the leading ornithologists in Tanzania, Neil and Liz Baker. With the help of the assistants I conducted field research in an attempt to answer a variety of questions about this lark. One of my objectives was to obtain blood sampled from the Spike-heeled Lark so that scientists in South Africa can attempt to analyze the DNA of Tanzanian Spike-heeled Lark against will be declared a new species. If this is the case then it is possible that this lark will be the rarest bird in Africa.
My month of research was an initial study of a bird of which little is known. In my research paper I have come up with several questions which I would like to pursue in greater detail. One of these questions is the matter of territory. This lark is thought to be territorial, but the territory range and family unit consistency is not known and has not been studied. It is thought that the numbers of Spike-heeled Larks to the capacity that habitat could allow, it is first necessary to know the size of the territory.
For the completion of my senior thesis I would like to return to Tanzania during Blocks 5 and 6 to do follow up research focusing of defining this larks’ territory. I particularly wish to return during the month of February, which will be the Spike-heeled Lark’s breeding season. My intention is to return to my study site, where over 200 Spike-heeled Larks were recorded. With the use of mist nets I plan to capture these larks in areas of both high and low densities. They will be observed and their movements mapped. I would like to see if territory size changes in areas of different densities. Also with my recording of banded/nonbanded larks I hope to try to estimate the overall population size. I plan to spend extensive time over the period of at least a month in the field making observations and recording data. I already have the full support of my Tanzanian advisors Neil and Liz Baker, to return and use their equipment and assistants if needed. I also have the support of Chris More who runs a camel camp within my research area, and has in the past outfitted me with supplies and transportation. I am also in the process of contacting Dr. Dave Allen, the South African authority on the Spike-heeled Lark, who is currently analyzing my blood samples. I hope to work with him to refine my territory research. Until January, I would like to work with the Bakers (via e-mail) and with my C.C. thesis advisors Professors Barbara Winternitz and Alex Vargo to fine tune my research methods and complete all my background library research.
In order to do this research project I will need some financial assistance. If this proposal is determined worthwhile I would like to request funding from the Venture Grant Committee in the amount of $850.00. This amount will cover some of my travel expenses. (See attached expenditure sheet.)
I really want to do this research. I think this is an interesting topic and an area that needs to be studied, especially in light of the fact that this bird might be on the endangered species list very soon. I see my work with the Spike-heeled Lark as having the chance to continue into my Masters and Ph.D. work. Upon my return to Colorado College, I will be giving an oral presentation at the annual Biology Day, currently scheduled for mid-April. This event is open to C.C. students and faculty, along with the public. Thank you for your consideration of my proposal.
|Airfare Colorado Springs to New York (round trip)||$500 - 700|
|Airfare to Tanzania (round trip)||$2100-2700|
|Living Expense (estimated at $12/day)
|$3320 - 4120|
|Hughes Undergraduate Research Program (Awarded 9/6/96)||$2500|
|Requested Venture Funds||$850|