Research interests in our research group

Our previous studies indicate that different ecological and evolutionary mechanisms (e.g reproductive costs, intraspecific competition and female choice) cause stabilizing selection on life-history traits (e.g. birth size, reproductive effort, male testosterone levels, immunocompetence). However, considerable genetic variation in these traits is still present in populations. Negative genetic correlations between the traits as well as sexually antagonistic genes might be two important mechanisms maintaining genetic variation in separate traits, but they are unlikely to be the only reasons that explain alternative genetic strategies. Negative frequency-dependent selection is one of the most interesting explanations for the maintenance of alternative tactics. Consequently, our central question is whether a neighbour’s genotype affects an individual’s fitness. Another important study area will be the microarray analyses, which will provide essential information about the variation in the gene expression level, and whether possible differences in the expression level explain microevolutionary responses to our artificial and natural selection experiments. Furthermore, we are interested in whether negative frequency-dependent selection can maintain variation in two candidate genes that have been implicated in modulating complex social behaviour - vasopressin and oxytocin receptors. Recently, it has become clear that understanding natural selection on such neuropeptide systems is essential for the development of modern evolutionary ecology, which integrates the latest molecular genetic methods with the field experiment in the study of natural populations. The new findings may explain the evolution of a surprisingly wide range of phenomena: from complex mating systems and sexual selection to social life and altruism.

Selected publications

Publication 1

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Publication 2

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Publication 3

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