→ Download the program as PDF file

→ Download the abstract book as PDF file


The Conference will be held in the main building of Bielefeld

University in lecture hall H10.



Friday 04 March 2011

14:00: Registration opens

15:15: Welcome

15:45 - 18:00: Talk session 1

18:00 - 19:00: Plenary talk - Dr. Jochen B.W. Wolf

19:00 ... Social evening

Saturday 05 March 2011

9:00 - 10:40 Talk Session 2

10:40 - 11:00 Coffee break

11:00 - 12:40 Talk Session 3

12:40 - 14:00 Lunch break and poster session

14:00 -15:00: Plenary talk - Prof. Dr. Nick Davies

15:00- 16:20: Talk Session 4

16:20 - 16:40 Coffee break

16:40 - 18:00 Talk Session 5

18:00 ... Social evening in the Pappelkrug

Sunday 06 March 2011

10:00 ... Excursion to the "Tierpark Olderdissen" and the "Botanischer Garten" in Bielefeld



We are proud to announce our invited speakers: 

  • Dr. Jochen B. W. Wolf; from the University of Uppsala, Sweden
      Genetic consequences of animal behaviour 

  • Professor Nick Davies; from the University of Cambridge, UK
       Cockoo- host co-evolution
Abstracts of the Plenary speakers:
  •  Abstract: Prof. Nick Davies - Cockoo- host co-evolution

    Naturalists are familiar with the often exquisite fit between an organism's behaviour and the demands of its physical and social environment. So the sight of a little warbler busily feeding a young cuckoo ten times its own body mass comes as a shock. Why is the warbler apparently being so stupid? I shall use studies of cuckoo- host interactions to illustrate how ideas from Behavioural Ecology have evolved during the past 50 years. I particular, I shall celebrate the fruitful interplay between natural history observation and theory, comparative studies and experiments, and questions concerning mechanism, function and evolution.


  • Abstract: Dr. Jochen B. W. Wolf - Genetic consequences of animal behaviour

    150 years ago Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace laid the conceptual foundation for understanding the enormous biodiversity of our planet. In his seminal book “On the origin of species” Darwin challenged the then prevailing view that species are immutable entities. He proposed instead that all organisms are subjected to the forces of natural selection and thereby amenable to change. However, lacking even the most rudimental understanding of hereditary principles he could not gain further insights into the mechanistic underpinnings of speciation. One century and a half later -following the merger of Mendelian genetic principles with Darwinian evolution - we have entered an era where deciphering the molecular basis of speciation is within reach. Much progress has come from the study of model organism such as Drosophila where controlled laboratory experiments paired with ample genomic information allow insights into the genetics of speciation. One central result of these studies is that only few interacting genes need to be involved in speciation. The rationale behind this is that some genes, altered by mutations, slightly differ between recently diverged populations and produce problems in hybrid individuals. Such incompatibility genes guarantee reproductive isolation between young species pairs and several have been successfully identified. However, the problem with such an approach is that it does not tell us much about the initial steps of speciation, as hybrid incompatibilities usually arise only after millions of years of separation. Therefore, studying the mechanisms at earlier stages of speciation is necessary to gain a comprehensive view of the speciation process and understand under which conditions the speciation process is initiated. Indeed, much research effort has been devoted to such systems including plants (Capsella), fish (sticklebacks, cichlids), mammals (mice), insects (butterflies) and birds (Darwin’s finches). Until recently, research in these systems was restricted to morphological, ecological and behavioural considerations. Over the last few years sequencing technology has been revolutionized and now endows us with the necessary tools to also address the genetic basis for divergence in these evolutionary model systems in earnest.

                    I will present two avian study systems where the early processes of speciation can be studied from a manifold perspective. I propose the idea that only a few genes that either directly or indirectly influence individual behaviour may be essential for reducing gene flow and may significantly contribute to the early steps in speciation. In the first system, the European Crow hybrid zone, a complete lack of neutral genetic divergence contrasts a high degree of reproductive isolation documented by discrete morphological differences and strong assortative mating behaviour. Here I will mainly discuss the role for few pigmentation genes and indirect genetic linkage through imprinting behaviour on genetic differentiation. The second part of the talk will revolve around the idea how migration behaviour could influence gene flow in sympatric populations using data from an ongoing study on European swallows. The application of novel sequencing approaches for the first time enables us to sally out and identify the genomic components contributing to the divergence of this textbook example of speciation. Still, it is clear that a blend of approaches is necessary to comprehensively address these questions. These include field work, ecological monitoring, candidate genes, large scale genomic sequencing and gene expression profiling.