The working group „Behavioural ecology and conservation genetics“ aims to understand the factors, that drive and influence the evolution of social structures, the demographic composition, ecological niche construction, distribution, connectivity and the survival of populations. The research projects are settled on different spatial scales. They can be divided into
- ecological and demographic studies on the level of individuals and their social units,
- meta-analyses on questions of population ecology covering several subpopulation within a given region,
- broad molecular and ecological comparisons covering entire distributions of species, and
- phylogenetic studies to clarify the taxonomic status of cryptic species and to understand their underlying radiation and phylogeography.
Model species have been so far mostly nocturnal lemurs that are endemic to the forests of Madagascar and partly have extremely small distributions. These species and their ecosystems are highly threatened by continuing habitat fragmentation and further anthropogenic disturbances such as wood extraction, bush fires, cattle grazing, or poaching. The understanding of the species-specific habitat requirements, the influence of habitat fragmentation on the genetic diversity of populations and therefore the evaluation of their viability and long-term survival are major topics of the projects related to conservation genetics.
Molecular genetics lab (S1) for the determination of paternity, relatedness, gene flow and phylogenetic relationships; radiotelemetric methods in the field, videographic data collection and analyses of behaviour, standard field equipment, scientific collaborations with field stations in Madagascar and Malaysia.
Genetic analyses of animal populations, advice concerning husbandry and reproduction of tropical wildlife.