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.

  • Rohner PT., Blanckenhorn WU., Schäfer MA. (2017). Critical weight mediates sex-specific body size plasticity and sexual dimorphism in the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria (Diptera: Scathophagidae). Evolution & Development, 19(3):147-156. DOI: 10.1111/ede.12223
  • Busso JP., Blanckenhorn WU., Gonzales-Tokman D. (2017). Healthier or bigger? Trade-off mediating male dimorphism in the black scavenger fly Sepsis thoracica (Diptera: Sepsidae). Ecological Entomology, 42, 517-525. DOI: 10.1111/een.12413
  • Giesen A., Schäfer MA., Blanckenhorn WU. (2017). Behavioural mechanisms of reproductive isolation between two hybridizing dung fly species (Sepsis cynipsea & S. neocynipsea: Diptera: Sepsidae). Animal Behaviour, 132, 155-166. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.08.008
  • Blanckenhorn WU. (2017). Selection on morphological traits and fluctuating asymmetry by a fungal parasite in the yellow dung fly. BIORXIV, BIORXIV/2017/136325 DOI: 10.1101/136325
  • Bozzuto C., Blanckenhorn WU. (2017). Taxonomic resolution and treatment effects – alone and combined – can mask significant biodiversity reductions. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management, 13, 86–99. DOI: 10.1080/21513732.2016.1260638