Kets Award

Jacques Kets Award for Zoology

Are you a graduating Master student with an innovative thesis in Zoology? Are you eager to pursue an academic career? The Jacques Kets Award for Zoology wants to give you a head start in boosting your academic skills and building your professional network.
Award prizes include a travel grant, a presentation workshop and attendance as an invited speaker at the next ZOOLOGY conference in Groningen.

Deadline for application is Friday 27 September 2019.

Who can participate?

Each Masters student in biology, molecular biology, bioscience-engineering or related scientific disciplines who wrote a Master’s thesis at a Belgian university or research institute during the last two academic years (2018-2019 or 2017-2018), and received a grade of – at least – 14/20 for their thesis.

The only requirement is that the subject of the thesis is in a zoological discipline in the broadest sense; this includes fundamental and applied studies in biodiversity conservation, ecology, population & conservation genetics, behavioural ecology & ethology, animal physiology, endocrinology, evolutionary biology, comparative anatomy & morphology, taxonomy & phylogeny, neurobiology or related disciplines.

Participation requires candidates to be able to join us at the Award Finals in Brussels on Saturday 16 November 2019.

How do you participate?

Click here

Award prizes

The Jury Award will be provided by the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, who will give the winner a conference travel grant worth € 1,000.

The Public Prize will be provided by the Royal Belgian Zoological Society, who will give the winner the opportunity (registration, travel and accommodation included) to present his/her work as an invited speaker for an international audience of zoologists at the ZOOLOGY conference (formerly Benelux Congress of Zoology).

About the award

The Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp and the Royal Belgian Zoological Society annually award a scientific award for the best Belgian master thesis presentation in Zoology.

The “Jacques Kets” Award was first installed in 1953 by the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp to arouse the love for nature in young people and to encourage them to pursue a career in natural sciences. The award was named after Jacques Kets, a naturalist and taxidermist from Antwerp who in 1843 became the first director of the newly established Antwerp Zoo.
In 2007 the Jacques Kets Award was modified into a “booster grant” to give promising Masters students the opportunity to build upon their achievements, to stimulate them to pursue an academic career in zoology, and give them a head start in building a professional network.

At the Biology Master Day 2018 following theses were presented to be selected for the Kets and RBZS public prize

Thomas Luypaert VUB Wildlife response to no-take zone establishment in the tropical rain forests of New Guinea
Hans Carolus KULeuven, RMCA The identification, diversity and ecology of gastropod – trematode associations of economic significance in Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe
Chloé Vescera ULiège Do the male blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) increase the temporal features of their song in response to traffic noise?
Mercy Gloria Ashepet VUB Understanding the social-ecological dynamics of Human-Crocodile conflicts in communities around Murchison Falls Conservation Area, Uganda
Gilles De Meester UA Toxin variation in Alpine salamander populations
Nathan Vranken KULeuven, RMCA The thick-lipped haplochromine cichlids of the Lake Edward system: a morphological revision


Prize winners 2018

Kets Prize | Thomas Luypaert


Wildlife response to no-take zone establishment in the tropical rain forests of New Guinea

New Guinea is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world, containing approximately 9% of the global terrestrial diversity in less than 1% of its surface area. Although Papua New Guinea (PNG) still contains part of one of the world’s largest tropical forests, much of its biological splendour is under threat by deforestation and forest degradation, compounded by the effects of a burgeoning human population and hunting activities. Thus, there is a growing need for biodiversity conservation in PNG; however, the establishment of protected areas has been a challenging process. The recent gazettal of the YUS Conservation Area, a community-based conservation initiative where no-take zones have been implemented to safeguard wildlife populations from overexploitation, appears promising. Nonetheless, long-term and cost effective biodiversity monitoring is critical to the conservation and management of these community-established and managed areas. In this study, we assessed the relative abundance of four ecologically and culturally significant taxa (macropods, possums/cuscus’, cassowaries and monotremes) to investigate whether no-take zones are increasing animal abundance and acting as source areas of wildlife to adjacent hunting grounds. Firstly, Generalized Linear Mixed Models (GLMMs) were used to determine drivers of wildlife abundance, specifically addressing the effects of protection and hunting. Secondly, a pilot study was conducted to assess the feasibility of camera trapping as a potential wildlife monitoring tool in YUS. Results indicate no-take zones can effectively increase wildlife populations and protect populations from hunting in protected areas close to human settlements; however their effectiveness depends on the taxon under investigation. Moreover, camera trapping proves to be an effective monitoring tool in YUS. This study will help optimize the efficacy of the YUS Conservation Area and represents useful background to wildlife managers in establishing, or optimizing existing no-take zones in areas with a similar biological and socio-cultural setting.

Public Prize | Nathan Vranken


The thick-lipped haplochromine cichlids of the Lake Edward system: a morphological revision

Haplochromine cichlids (perch-like fishes) are well known for their extra-ordinary diversity and their ability to form adaptive radiations. Their rapid speciation, numerous ecological adaptations, and distinct colour patterns have intrigued biologists for a long time. However, many species have remained undescribed, which hampers biological research and our understanding of the ecosystems they inhabit. Haplochromine cichlids are especially abundant in the Great East African Lakes. Local communities are highly dependent on these freshwater systems to provide them with food, water, and possibilities to fish, their economically most-important activities. However, recent environmental changes and the reported decrease in fisheries threaten these local communities and freshwater ecosystems.

The HIPE-project investigates the human impacts on ecosystem health and resources of Lake Edward. Within the framework of this project, we perform a taxonomical revision of the largely unexplored species of Haplochromis from lakes Edward and George. Hitherto, only 31 of the estimated 100 species that inhabit these lakes have been formally described. We take measurements, counts, and qualitative observations from numerous specimens. Newly discovered species are formally described, while valid species are redescribed.

Hitherto, 14 new species were discovered and are being described. These include three species of oral snail shellers that use their teeth to grab the soft bodies of snails and tear them out of their shells; three species of paedophages that attack other mouth-brooding cichlids to steal their eggs from out of their mouths; an insectivore with a very slender snout and lobate lips, well adapted to suck insects out of small crevices between rocks; and at least seven species of piscivores, each with a characteristic colour pattern. Observation of museum collections suggest that lakes Edward and George are inhabited by many more species with peculiar morphologies and interesting ecologies.