Invertebrate Behavioral and Evolutionary Ecology

Evolutionary ecology is a biological discipline that integrates research questions and methods of evolutionary biology, ecology, population biology, behavior, genetics, functional morphology, phylogenetics and physiology. With this approach our group attempts to achieve a thorough understanding of the organismic evolution of particularly suitable model organisms. Hypotheses are generally grounded in theory and tested experimentally in the field or the laboratory or using comparative methods. This may include modeling to generate predictions. In the past we worked with primates, birds and fish, but primarily insects. Our main current interests are the evolution of animal life histories, phenotypic plasticity and body size. At present we investigate the multiple factors that determine sexual size dimorphism and thermal adaptation, primarily in two widespread and economically important dung fly species, the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria and the black scavenger fly Sepsis cynipsea, and their close relatives.

Research themes:

  • The evolution of sexual size dimorphism in dung flies
  • Pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection in dung flies
  • Physiological determinants of reproductive characters and success in dung flies
  • The influence of sexual selection, sexual conflict and reproductive behavior on morphology and genital evolution in the Sepsidae
  • Repeated latitudinal thermal adaptation of dung fly populations on three continents (Europe, North America, Asia) based on quantitative and molecular genetic evidence
  • Effects of livestock medication on the biodiversity of the dung community in agricultural landscapes

Video clip on Youtube

Dung community video no. 1   video no. 2   by former Ph.D. student Ralf Jochmann, Bielefeld, Germany

Group members:

Group members