Department of Evolutionary Genetics: More Projects

The origin of the last remaining wild horses

Przewalski’s horses are listed as last wild species of horses, but genome studies demonstrate that all remaining specimens of Przewalski’s horses are descendants of formerly domesticated animals.

Epigenetic stability and plasticity of social environmental effects

Epigenetic modifications function as flexible mechanisms to increase a species' adaptability to environmental changes. Such changes may also involve the social environment. Therefore we want to know, if a certain social status is reflected by a specific (for that status) epigenetic pattern.

Adaptive genetic variation in mustelid species

Closely related species differ in the number genes contained in their genomes. We study this type of genomic variation in the context of habitat adaptation in mustelids.

Sun Bear Conservation Genetics and Genomics

Despite its vulnerable status in the IUCN Red List and serious conservation concerns, the sun bear Helarctos malayanus remains the least studied bear species. In this project, we use a range of genetic and genomic approaches to support on-going conservation efforts with new molecular tools.

Invertebrate-derived DNA for monitoring (urban) Wildlife in Berlin

The use of mosquitoes and flies (in particular the blood of animals they fed on), collected in parks in and around Berlin, offers a non-invasive way to survey wildlife occurrence and distribution in cities. The meta-barcoded sequence data from the blood ingested by the insects will also be correlated to the “collection systems” (flies vs. mosquitos) to analyse the impact the choice of the “collection system” has on the outcome.

Understanding demographic and genetic change in an expanding population through simulation modelling

Understanding the interplay between demographic changes and genetics chenges is difficult as these two sources of change are interconnected and undergo complex feedback loops. Based on data from a 22+year study of the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, we tailored an individual based simulation model to study a wide range of both fundamental questions and questions that have practical implications in terms of conservation.

In-depth genomic analysis of hybridization between sea turtles

Hybridization between sea turtle species occurs with particularly high frequency in some populations in Brazil. We have been using state-of-the-art genomic techniques to evaluate the extent of hybridization occurrence, the possible deleterious effects in the hybrid progeny and the consequences for sea turtle conservation.

Anatolian Lynx Project

Inferences from populations studied elsewhere might prove to be misleading for conservation of locally adapted populations. Our research has proved that Eurasian lynx populations living in Anatolian Turkey display a special foraging ecology, and morphological and behavioural adjustments meeting expectations of a lagomorph specialist meso-carnivore, living at high density and genetically diverse populations. This project aims to form an extensive baseline for conservation of this unique lynx population and create a model for conservation of other carnivore species in Turkey.

Modelling genetic processes to support the conservation management of Eurasian lynx

The genetic variability of the reintroduced populations of large carnivores such as Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) has been called into question due to the weak genetic exchange. We are developing an existing population model to include individual genetics for testing conservation management scenarios in order to reveal the potential for enhancing the genetic variability of a Central European meta-population.

Powering endurance: Fuel selection in migratory bats

Mammals that engage in high intensity endurance exercise will deplete their glycogen reserves and then reach a point of sudden fatigue. Migratory birds, however, don’t have that problem, they oxydize lipids. But how do migratory bats generate the energy needed for long distance migration? Do they metabolize fat depots or do they refuel on the way?

Evolution driven by repetitive regions in sea turtles

Studying genetic variability (for functional and ecological analyses) in species that have a very low number of informative sites (e.g. sea turtles) is very challenging. Thus, we will assemble a very high quality genome (chromosome level) of the green sea turtle and will develop the bioinformatics tools to search for other variability markers (such as repetitive units) in sea turtles and other vertebrate groups with a low number of informative sites.

Using terrestrial leeches to assess phylogeographic patterns of a rare and threatened species: the Annamite striped rabbit

Most vertebrate species are, at least concerning their blood, also target species for leeches. Here we use leech-derived DNA, meaning the DNA from the host species that the leech fed on, to study the distribution pattern of a very elusive and threatened lagomorph species, the Annamite striped rabbit (Nesolagus timminsi), endogenous to the Annamite mountain range (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia).

Wild boar in urban space

Wild boar have already established stable populations in many European cities. Effective and efficient population management is needed to avoid human-wildlife conflicts. For its implementation, it has to be clarified whether these urban populations are self-sustaining or require a constant influx of animals from surrounding areas (source-sink dynamics). We are investigating this in two European cities, namely Berlin and with our collaborative partner Wildlife Ecology & Health in Barcelona.

Forest elephant conservation in Liberia

The forest elephant population (Loxodonta cyclotis) of Central Africa has declined by more than half in the last two decades. Information on population sizes in West Africa is completely missing. In close cooperation with ElReCo and Future for Elephants, we are therefore using genetic markers to investigate size, structure and sex composition of forest elephant populations in Liberia in order to support conservation measures for these endangered giants.