PARTICIPATION IN RESEARCH PROJECTS

Principal researcher: Martin Päckert

Period: 2008-2011

Climate change is one of the major driving forces for adaptive shifts in migration and breeding phenology, and possibly impacts demographic changes if a species fails to adapt sufficiently. In Western Europe, pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) have insufficiently adapted their breeding phenology to the ongoing advance of food peaks within their breeding area, and consequently suffered local population declines. Here, we will test for potential effects of global change on the genetic architecture of populations using two neutral marker sets (mitochondrial control region and microsatellites) and one potentially selectively non-neutral marker (avian clock gene). We will use current and historic samples from six European pied flycatcher populations (Finland, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands), covering a large part of the species’ breeding range.

 

Principal researcher: Juan Carlos Senar

Period: 2006-2009

Plumage coloration signals body condition, experience or dominance status of individuals. This is why in many bird species this coloration is used as a main criterium for mate choice or to choose a social companion. Unfortunatelly, most studies up to now have dealt with a single ornament, or have centered only on partial aspects of the problem. The aim of the current research project is to carry out a multidisciplinary approach to the problem of plumage signal evolution, investigating aspects related to behavioural strategies, physiology, biochemestry and genetics. We use as a main hypothesis that different kinds of colours (based on carotenes, melanins and structural) signal different qualities of the individual. We additionally test for the effects of plumage coloration on proceses as local adaptation and gene flow. This project, therefore, allows for the study of the evolution of signals from a new perspective.

 

Principal researcher: Jaime Potti

Period 2006-2009

Despite years of research, a thorough knowledge of relationships between genetic variation and fitness is in the core of population biology still. Such relationships are easier studied in model organisms reared in the laboratory for many generations, although results are not applicable to the wild.

The aim of this proposal is to enlighten the relationships genetic variation-fitness in a natural population of pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca). Genetic studies will follow the ones of successful research lines in this field: genetic variation will be studied by means of major histocompatibility complex genes and microsatellite markers, looking for correlations between genetic variation measured in this fashion and several fitness traits, and trying to understand the genetic basis of such correlations.

The difference and power of this proposal rest on the population to be studied. This exceptional population is being studied since its foundation in 1988, it lets making up pedigrees, and many fitness traits are known in detail through its history of life.