• Conservation genomics of the Hooded Grebes Podiceps gallardoi in Argentina

The Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi is a critically endangered endemic bird of the southernmost part of continental Argentina. The species very restricted reproductive conditions in lakes of basaltic pre-andean plateaus led to its discovery only in 1974. Since then, population size has dropped by 80%, leaving about 800 individuals. Identified threats include, invasive American minks, introduced trouts, and climate change. In winter, hooded grebes migrate towards the estuaries of the Atlantic Ocean returning to the plateaus in spring. A relatively constant number of individuals at each plateau during successive breeding seasons suggests that Hooded Grebes are phylopatric to breeding plateaus. We test this hypothesis using a ddRADseq approach, on populations of three different plateaus. We expect to find a significant population structure if Hooded Grebes are phylopatric to these plateaus.

This project is funded by an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation "Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers" to Dr. Bettina Mahler.

Project team:
Dr. Bettina Mahler (Guest Scientist, Assist. Prof. Universidad de Buenos Aires)

  • Multiple births in Homo sapiens - Disentangling stable and dynamic heterogeneity

Historical demographic data from Homo sapiens (across several European countries) are used to generate
life-history simulations that enable the disentanglement of between- and within-individual variation in demographic life-history traits.
Project team:
Former team members:
Dr. Ian Rickard (Guest Scientist, Durham University UK)
  • Gradual environmental change versus Single catastrophe-Identifying drivers of mammalian evolution

By combining climate reconstructions, molecular genetic data and species distribution data from the Late Pleistocene (126-13.7 thousand years ago) to the present we evaluate the impact of two key drivers shaping mammalian diversity in a Southeast Asian biodiversity hotspot, the Sunda Shelf.

Funded by the Leibniz-Association (Leibniz Competitive Fund IZW-2-2013 (Leibniz, 2013-2016)


Project team:
Former team members:
Dr. Renata Martins
  • Paternal epigenetic effects: Do fathers transmit their experiences to their sons?

Epigenetic changes function as flexible mechanisms to increase adaptability within a generation and transmit the environmental information to subsequent generations in vertebrates. In times of global warming and changing vegetation, we aimed to study the epigenetic response of a wild mammal species, the wild guinea pig, to an increase in temperature (of 10°C more than ambient) as well as to a diet alteration (of 40% less protein). We measured the direct epigenetic response in male wild guinea pigs and also studied whether, and if so to what degree that response was also transmitted to their sons. We detected transmission of epigenetic information from fathers to their sons.

Funded by the Leibniz-Association , SAW Pakt project 2011-2014 (SAW-2011-IZW-2), € 1.2M

Related publications

Project team:
Dr. Katrin Rübensam
Dr. Romy Waurich
Irina K. (Field station Niederfinow)
Dr. Katharina T. Schrapers
Marie Jeschek
Tzu Hung Chung (Zymo Research, USA)
Selma Yasar
Martina Schneemann
Stephan Karl
Prof. Dr. Chen Wei (MDC)
Last updated on December 18, 2019