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M.SC. position in individual differences in meerkat stress response

Individuals’ sensitivity and response to stress can vary considerably. This individual variation may be driven by different levels of, or sensitivities to, glucocorticosteroids (stress hormones). As a result, individuals’ behaviour may vary in response to the same situation or stimuli. Wild, but habituated meerkats in their natural habitat in the southern Kalahari will be used to study differences in stress reactivity, by first establishing an individual’s baseline cortisol levels, to see the degree of inter-individual variation under similar conditions. This will be followed by experimentally increasing individual stress levels, investigating how this increase is reflected in their faecal glucocorticoid metabolites and how their behaviour and/or vocalisations change. This masters project will require an extended period in the field (approx. 6 months) at the Kalahari Meerkat Project, South Africa, starting between January and March 2021, depending on possible COVID pandemic travel restrictions.

Information on the field site visit: link


  • interest in animal behaviour, behavioural ecology,
  • motivated to collect observational data and perform field experiments in the southern Kalahari, South Africa,
  • driver’s license.

Project start:
Immediately, January 2021 to go out to the field - latest in March 2021.

Please include a brief CV (1-2 pages) and a paragraph outlining motivation & interest.

If you are interested in the project, please contact us.
Isabel Driscoll, Ph.D. student supervising the project
Prof. Dr. Marta Manser, Animal Behaviour, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich

Last update: 09.11.2020