Dr. Antje Girndt

IMPRS Alumni
MPI for Ornithology Seewiesen

Main Focus

The older the better? Understanding age associated fitness variation in passerines 
Mating strategies vary between species, populations, individuals, and even within an individual. For instance, an individual might use different strategies to maximise its fitness when it is old, compared to when it is young. In most bird species, both females and males engage in copulations outside their pair bond (extra-pair copulations). Extra-pair males are commonly older males. However, whether older males get better at outcompeting younger rivals (the observed effect takes place within an individual) or are simply the ones that live longest (the observed effect arises through cross-sectional comparison between individuals) remains to be clarified. In my PhD, I use an experimental breeding design in a captive population of house sparrows, as well as a long-term dataset from a wild population to study the occurrence of extra-pair offspring and its interaction with parental age. I compare the fitness of within- and extra-pair offspring associated with parental age, quantify fitness consequences of male extra-pair behaviour, and compare reproductive traits of young and old males. In summary, my PhD focuses on extra-pair reproduction in birds and explores how age explains individual variation in fitness.

The cheating sparrows of Lundy Island (Youtube video)

Curriculum Vitae

  • 2014-2018 PhD student: Understanding variation in reproductive success and its association to male age in house sparrows, Passer domesticus. Research Group Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany + Imperial College London, UK
  • 2011-2014 PhD student: Genotyping laser-microdissected spermatozoa at the site of fertilisation. Department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany
  • 2010-2011 Conference producer at Oxford Global Ltd., UK
  • 2010 Diplom (comparable to a MSc) in Biology: Multiple paternity analyses in different populations of the sailfin molly (Poecilia latipinna). University of Potsdam and Humboldt University, Germany. Supervisors: Prof. Ralp Tiedemann, Dr. Martin Plath
  • 2009 Visiting Researcher: Audience effects, social familiarity and its association with male mate-choice in live-bearing fish. University of Oklahoma, USA. Prof. Ingo Schlupp
  • 2007-2008 Student Research Assistant: Testing the role of reefs as a source of evolutionary novelty in the oceans. Museum of Natural History Berlin, Germany. Prof. Wolfgang Kiessling
  • 2007 Vordiplom (University Entrance Exam) in Biology. University of Rostock, Germany
  • 2006 Internship: Comparing dogs in their ability to visually track object transposition. Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany. Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Dr. Michael Tomasello
Awards & Scholarships
  • 2014 IMPRS for Organismal Biology Student Grant (1600 EURO) together with Martin Bulla: Variation in reproductive traits as predictors of mating strategies in Shorebirds
  • 2012 Innovation Grant (5000 EURO): Exploring the effects of anthropogenic food sources on house sparrows.  Max Planck Institute for Ornithology
  • 2011/12 IMPRS for Organismal Biology: One year PhD Scholarship
  • 2009 DAAD scholarship (1525 EURO):  Audience effects, social familiarity and its association with male mate-choice in live-bearing fish for research at the University of Oklahoma, USA
PhD Advisory CommitteeCollaborators
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