- Evolutionary Genetics
- Behavioural Ecology
- Mating strategies
- Sexual behaviour
- Embryo mortality
Our research group studies the quantitative and molecular genetics of
sexual behaviour in the zebra finch to address fundamental questions in
evolutionary biology. One of our main interests lies in the understanding of
genes that contribute to sexually antagonistic evolution. For instance, we ask,
what are the effects of genes that increase male promiscuity (and hence male
fitness), on female promiscuity, female fecundity, but also on male and female
parental qualities. These and many other questions are addressed using long term
data on a very large captive population of zebra finches. Extensive
observational data on extra-pair courtships in a communal aviary setting are
complemented with breeding of selection lines and large-scale SNP genotyping
that allows us to conduct QTL mapping and subsequent study of candidate genes
involved the behaviours that lie at the core of sexual selection.
Ongoing main projects
- Female promiscuity as a genetic corollary of male promiscuity
- Genes underlying digit ratio correlations with sexual behaviour
- Quantitative genetics of male attractiveness, ornamentation and fitness
- Inbreeding depression and heterozygosity-fitness correlations
- QTL mapping of sexual behaviour and ornamentation
- Genotype-phenotype associations
- Causes of genetic incompatibility
- Benefits of promiscuity and mate choice
- Assortative mating for quality
- Causes of infertility and embryo mortality
Former group members
- Daiping Wang, PhD student
since September 2014, "Can female promiscuity
evolve via indirect selection on male sex-drive?"
- Malika Ihle, PhD student since September 2010, "Benefits of mate choice"
- Ulrich Knief, PhD student since September 2010, "Molecular genetics of morphology and compatibility"
- Katrin Martin, Diploma June 2008, "Inbreeding avoidance in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)", now technical assistant since October 2008
- Melanie Schneider, technical assistant since May 2005
- Elisabeth Bolund, PhD in March 2009, "Condition dependence and
fitness consequences of sexual traits in zebra finches", EES award of
the LMU Munich, now Postdoc with Virpi Lumma (Sheffield) working on
- Holger Schielzeth, PhD in December 2008, "Causes of
between-individual differences in mating preferences", now Junior
Research Group Leader (Emmy Noether Fellowship) at Bielefeld University
- Thibaud Aronson, MSc in
September 2013, "Quality manipulation and
mate choice in wild-derived zebra finches"
- Johannes Schreiber, MSc in November 2012, "Effects of variation in genetic quality on sexual behaviour and fitness in zebra finches"
- Aurelie Seguin, MSc in June 2010, "Colour-ring effects on male zebra finches"
- Sanja Janker, Diploma in December 2009, "Inbreeding depression in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)"
- Claudia Burger, Diploma October 2006, "Kin recognition in the absence of social learning in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)", now doing her PhD with Christiaan Both (Groningen)
Academic Education / Positions Held
Since 2008: Research
scientist at the Dept. of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics, MPIO
2004-2008: Emmy Noether Research Group leader at the MPIO
2002-2004: Postdoc at Sheffield University, UK (Emmy Noether
and Marie Curie Fellowships)
1998-2001: PhD at Würzburg University and
Vogelwarte Radolfzell (advisors: Dr. Bernd Leisler and Prof. K. E.
Diploma in Biology at Würzburg University
Services and Awards
Since 2012: Editor for Behavioral
2006-2011: Member of the Junge Akademie
2003: Horst Wiehe
Doctorate Prize (DZG)
Organizational Unit (Department, Group, Facility):
- Department Kempenaers
- IMPRS Faculty
- MPI for Ornithology Seewiesen