My main research interests include molecular ecology and conservation genetics. I am particularly interested in the use of genetic methods for the conservation of small and endangered populations.
For my PhD project I investigated the genetic structure and degree of inbreeding of different endemic Galápagos mockingbird species and populations to find out whether higher levels of inbreeding lead to decreased immunocompetence or increased susceptibility to disease in these birds. This is of special interest with regard to the endangered Floreana mockingbird, Mimus trifasciatus, which disappeared on its home island Floreana some 130 years ago and today only exists on two small and isolated satellite islands. Together with the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galápagos National Park Service we are working on the reintroduction of these birds back onto Floreana. With the help of modern genetic samples and DNA samples from museum specimens over 100 years old, I determined the genetic variability and its change over time in different mockingbird populations. There are even samples that were collected by Darwin himself when mockingbirds still used to occur on Floreana which served us to extract important information for the reintroduction project.
Education and Professional Positions
|2005 - 2010||Ph.D. at the Zoological Museum / Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland|
|2003 - 2004||Internship with the Frankfurt Zoological Society, Germany and Tanzania|
|2002||Diploma in Biology (major subject Zoology), University of Zurich, Switzerland|