|Fakultät für Biologie und Vorklinische Medizin|
|Institut für Zoologie|
|Lehrstuhl für Zoologie / Evolutionsbiologie|
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Animals show a large range of body plans and life histories. We test predictions from evolutionary theory to better understand the evolution of new traits and life styles in several model organisms, in particular ants and aquatic arthropods.
|Structure and Function of Animal Societies |
Why do organisms cooperate even if this may involve a cost? We study ants to determine factors that favor altruism and how conflicts among selfish group members are resolved without destroying the society as a whole.
|Social Evolution, Reproduction, and Aging |
Most organisms trade-off investment in reproduction against investment in self-preservation and longevity. In contrast, highly fertile ant queens live longer than nestmates with low fecundity. We combine experimental manipulation with transcriptomics to determine the mechanisms underlying this bizarre phenomenon.
|Reproductive Strategies and Tactics |
Conspecific individuals may differ in how they maximize their own fitness. We investigate alternative reproductive tactics in ants both in an interspecific and intraspecific context. This includes lethal fighting in males, the evolution of slave-making, and wing loss in ant queens.
|Communication and Decision Making in Ants |
Despite their small brains, ants are famous for extraordinary cognitive performance. Finding shortcuts in trail systems or building complex nests depends on a sophisticated system of communication and feedback loops. We investigate the chemistry of communication and the role of individual vs. social information in decision making.
|Evolutionary Innovation and Rapid Adaptation |
The origin of novelty is a key question in evolutionary biology. Using the invasive ant Cardiocondyla obscurior, we study the role of recombination rate, transposable elements and endosymbiotic bacteria in adaptation to novel environments.
|Phylogeny and Zoogeography |
Reconstructing the phylogeny of organisms makes it possible to uncover relationships among extant taxa and to determine if particular life histories and adaptations have evolved only once or repeatedly. We use comparative morphology and molecular methods to reconstruct the phylogeny of ants and aquatic arthropods.