Research Group Evolutionary Ecology of Variation
Our group studies the adaptive nature of repeatable among-individual variation in behaviour (called ‘animal personality’). We apply behavioural ecology paradigms to reveal conditions (dis)favouring this form of variation, focussing on ‘risky behaviours’ (aggressiveness, boldness). We use 12 rural nest box populations and one city population of great tits, a wild field cricket population and a pedigreed lab population of field crickets as model systems. We currently focus on:
Adaptive animal personality variation We use great tits and crickets to test the predictions and assumptions of theoretical models predicting the conditions by which natural selection might favour the evolutionary emergence repeatable among-individual variation in behaviour.
Consequences of personality We also study whether the very existence of individual differences within natural populations of great tits and crickets has ecological and evolutionary consequences, for example, by considering indirect (genetic) effects of social neighbourhoods on behaviour and life-history.
Development of statistical tools The quantification of differences between vs. within individuals requires specific statistical tools. What study designs, sample sizes, and statistical methods are required to reveal the structure of behavioural traits within and between individuals? Our group develops statistical tools for quantifying multivariate multilevel phenotypes.
Here you will find a list of our current research projects