Wolf Blanckenhorn

Research Interests

I am an evolutionary ecologist, a biological discipline that integrates research questions and methods of evolutionary biology, ecology, population biology, behavior, genetics, phylogenetics, functional morphology and physiology. With this approach we attempt to achieve a thorough understanding of the whole organism evolution of particularly suitable model organisms, primarily the widespread and economically important yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria, black scavenger flies (Sepsidae) and their close relatives. Hypotheses are generally grounded in theory and tested experimentally in the field and the laboratory or using comparative methods. This may include modeling to generate predictions. In the past I have worked with primates, birds and fish, but primarily insects. Our current research mainly focuses on the evolution of animal life histories, body size and sexual dimorphism, and phenotypic plasticity, particularly in the context of thermal adaptation.


Education and Professional Positions

2004 - present Titularprofessor, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland
since 1993 Senior Research Associate and Lecturer at the Zoological Museum, University of Zurich, Switzerland
1991 - 1993 NSERC International Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Concordia University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada
1990 Ph.D. in Evolutionary Ecology, State University of New York at Albany (USA)
1986 Diploma (M.Sc.) in Biology, University of Tübingen, Germany
1979 - 1986 Study of Biology, University of Tübingen (D) and Duke University, Durham, NC (USA)

Selected Publications

  • Rohner PT., Blanckenhorn WU., Puniamoorthy N. (2016) Sexual selection on male size drives the evolution of male-biased sexual size dimorphism via the prolongation of male development. Evolution, 70(6):1189-1199. DOI: 10.1111/evo.12944
  • Floate KD., Düring RA., Hanafi J., Jud P., Lahr J., Lumaret JP., Scheffczyk A., Tixier T., Wohde M., Römbke J., Sautot L., Blanckenhorn WU. (2016) Validation of a standard field test method in four countries to assess the toxicity of residues in dung of cattle treated with veterinary medical products. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry / Setac, 35(8):1934-1946. DOI: 10.1002/etc.3154
  • Blanckenhorn WU. (2015) Investigating yellow dung fly body size evolution in the field: Response to climate change? Evolution, 69(8):2227-2234. DOI: 10.1111/evo.12726
  • Esperk T., Kjaersgaard A., Walters RJ., Berger D., Blanckenhorn WU. (2016) Plastic and evolutionary responses to heat stress in a temperate dung fly: negative correlation between basal and induced heat tolerance? Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 29(5):900-915. DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12832
  • Blanckenhorn WU., Rohner PT., Bernasconi MV., Haugstetter J., Buser A. (2016) Is qualitative and quantitative metabarcoding of dung fauna biodiversity feasible? Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry / Setac, 35(8):1970-1977. DOI: 10.1002/etc.3275