Faculty of Biology - Evolutionary Biology
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Dr. Holger Schielzeth

Department of Evolutionary Biology
Morgenbreede 45, 33615 Bielefeld
Office: VHF-212
Phone: 0521-106 2820
email: holger.schielzeth"at"uni-bielefeld.de
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February: Juan Petro Camacho published a Technical Comment on our genome size paper in Evolution. We have now revisited the original flow cytometric data and find that the reported effects become stronger rather then weaker with more stringent analysis, strongly suggesting the the effects are biologically real.

January: Sara Bellinvia has finished her Masters thesis on the predictability of behaviour in grasshoppers - with very exciting results.

January: I've been contributing to an interdisciplinary Meeting on Bayesian versus Frequentist Statistics at the ZiF in Bielefeld. The very intersting discussion  was centered on how we best quantify evidence in favour of scientific hypotheses and in how far Bayes factors are useful for this pupose.

Research interests

I am an evolutionary biologist and passionate naturalist with a particular interest in microevolution. Microevolution is focused on evolutionary change that takes place within populations and that ultimately lead to divergence between populations. I make use of quantitative genetic techniques for studying the genetic architecture of sexually selected traits and of molecular markers for localizing additive genetic variation in the genome ('QTL mapping'). Two particularly intriguing topics are the evolution of sexual ornamentation and of behavioral strategies for successful reproduction. Another special focus lies on the sources of variation in mating preferences, an important component of sexual selection. Other interests include life history evolution, inbreeding depression, condition-dependent trait expression, biostatistics and animal migration. [read more]

Current project

We are working with the club-legged grasshopper (Gomphocerus sibiricus) as a novel model system for studying the evolution of sexually selected traits. The species is remarkable for its sexually dimorphic ornament: males possess swollen front legs (‘Popeye arms’) that are presented to the females during display. The system is amenable to laboratory and field work, which offers great opportunities for testing results from the lab in the natural environment. Another key advantage is that the species allows studies within populations as well as between populations/subspecies. The main aim of my work is to understand the coevolution and conflict between the sexes using quantitative genetic and genomic tools. By doing so, I am addressing fundamental evolutionary questions such as the evolution of sexual signals and the evolutionary dynamics of indirect genetic effects. [read more]

Research team

Anasuya Chakrabarty and Pablo Valverde are working on their PhD projects on the behavioural and evolutionary ecology of sexual selection in club-legged grasshoppers. Amy Backhouse does a lot of the management of the lab breeding in her role as a technical assistant. Even more recently, Petra Dieker has joined the team as a postdoc and is measuring selection on club-legged grasshoppers in the field. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you are interested in working on topics of sexual selection using quantitative genetic approaches. [read more]

Tengiz Bird Survey

The Tengiz-Korgalzyhn region in Central Kazakhstan is of key importance to breeding and migrating waterbirds. With its rich diversity of wetlands in a landscape dominated by steppes and semi-deserts, the region represents one of the most important stopover sites on the Central Asian and West Asian flyway. In 1999-2004, we have surveyed the region for waterbirds and have published population estimates and phenological information for the Tengiz-Korgalzyhn region. The data has been used both for updating global flyway population estimates and for the designation of important birds areas (IBA) within the region. Recently, we decided to revive the surveys so that more recent data would allow us to identify population trends. Four teams have successfully survey spring and autumn migration in 2015 and we aim to continue surveys over the next few seasons. If you are interesting in contribution with you expertise, you are very welcome to contact me. [Publication Waterfowl]   [Publication Shorebirds]   [Commented species list]   [Blog & Pictures]


Most recent [read more]

Valverde, K. & Schielzeth, H. (2015). What triggers colour change? Effects of background colour and temperature on the development of an alpine grasshopper. BMC Evolutionary Biology 15: 168.

Griffin, R.G., Le Gall, D., Schielzeth, H. & Friberg, U. (2015). Within-population Y-linked genetic variation for lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 28: 1940-1947.

Knief, U., Schielzeth, H., Ellegren, H., Kempenaers, B. & Forstmeier, W. (2015). A prezygotic transmission distorter acting equally in female and male zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata. Molecular Ecology 24: 3846–3859.

Reinhold, K. & Schielzeth, H. (2015). Choosiness, a neglected aspect of preference functions: a review of methods, challenges and statistical approaches. Journal of Comparative Physiology A: 201: 171-182.

Cleasby, I.R., Nakagawa, S. & Schielzeth, H. (2015). Quantifying the predictability of behaviour: statistical approaches for the study of between-individual variation in the within-individual variance. Methods in Ecology & Evolution 6: 27-37.