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Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies

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

See full publication list on Google Scholar.

  • Walters RJ., Berger D., Blanckenhorn WU., Bussière LF., Rohner PT., Thüler K., Jochmann R., Schäfer MA. (2022). Growth rate mediates hidden developmental plasticity of female yellow dung fly reproductive morphology in response to environmental stressors. Evolution & Development 24:3-15. DOI: 10.1111/ede.12396
  • González-Tokman D., Bauerfeind SS., Schäfer MA., Walters RJ., Berger D., Blanckenhorn WU. (2022). Heritable responses to combined effects of heat stress and ivermectin in the yellow dung fly. Chemosphere, 286:131030. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.131030
  • Blanckenhorn WU., Berger D., Rohner PT., Schäfer MA., Akashi H., Walters RJ. (2021). Comprehensive thermal performance curves for yellow dung fly life history traits and the temperature-size-rule. Journal of Thermal Biology, 100:103069. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtherbio.2021.103069
  • Blanckenhorn WU., Baur J., Roy J., Puniamoorthy N., Busso JP., Schäfer MA., Rohner PT. (2021). Comparative sexual selection in field and laboratory in a guild of sepsid dung flies. Animal Behaviour, 175:219-230. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2021.03.001
  • Blanckenhorn WU., Baur J., Busso JP., Giesen A., Gourgoulianni N., van Koppenhagen N., Roy J., Schäfer MA., Wegmann A., Rohner PT. (2020). Sexual size dimorphism is associated with reproductive life history trait differentiation in coexisting sepsid flies. Oikos, 129(8):1152-1162. DOI: 10.1111/oik.07036
  • Baur J., Giesen A., Rohner PT., Blanckenhorn WU., Schäfer MA. (2020). Exaggerated male forelegs are not more differentiated than wing morphology in two widespread sister species of black scavenger flies. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 58(1):159-173. DOI: 10.1111/jzs.12327
  • Khelifa R., Blanckenhorn WU., Roy J., Rohner PT., Mahdjoub H. (2019). Usefulness and limitations of thermal performance curves in predicting ectotherm development under climatic variability. Journal of Animal Ecology, 88(12):1901-1912. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.13077
  • Schäfer MA., Berger D., Rohner PT., Kjaersgaard A., Bauerfeind SS., Guillaume F., Fox CW., Blanckenhorn WU. (2018). Geographic clines in wing morphology relate to colonization history in New World but not Old World populations of yellow dung flies. Evolution, 72(8):1629-1644. DOI: 10.1111/evo.13517

Weiterführende Informationen

Wolf Blanckenhorn

Wolf Blanckenhorn

Senior Lecturer, Adjunct Professor

Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
University of Zurich
Winterthurerstrasse 190
8057 Zurich

Office: Y38-M-14
Phone: +41 44 635 4755