Research and collaboration

Sexual selection and evolution of condition dependent signalling from the perspective of quantitative genetics

Genetic benefits in form of good genes have been invoked to explain costly female choice in the absence of direct fitness benefits. However, little genetic variance in fitness traits is expected because directional selection tends to drive beneficial alleles to fixation thus leaving little room for female choice to result in genetic benefits. Nevertheless, evidence shows that ample genetic variance in fitness traits persists despite directional selection. A proposed solution to the maintenance of genetic variance in the face of directional selection through female choice is based on two robust assumptions: condition dependence of traits and high genetic variance in condition. In this research project we focus on the quantitative genetics of condition dependence and condition. We also study the genetic variance in tolerance of costs of sexual traits and reproduction.

Effects of forest management and restoration on forest and mire biodiversity

Conservation and economical utilization of natural resources forms a confrontation between the two, in which promotion of one unavoidably compromises the other. Last decades have shown that excessive unsustainable utilization of natural resources causes extinctions and impoverishment of biodiversity. To conserve biodiversity, actions have been undertaken, but research based knowledge about the impacts of the currently used restoration practices are not yet available. Nevertheless, the best guarantee for successful restoration and conservation of biodiversity is to have empirical information based on scientific research. In this research project we aim to determine the effects of current restoration practices on biodiversity and to create knowledge based on which the planning of future restoration projects may be improved.

Predicting the risk of extinction from shared life history characteristics

Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992 marks a historic political commitment by 157 nations to conserve biological diversity. Yet today, over a decade later, biological diversity is still declining at an accelerating rate. The immediate cause of the world-wide decline of biological diversity is anthropogenic disturbance, habitat loss and climate change. This being recognized, the most important challenge for contemporary ecologists is to identify any shared ecological or life history characteristics of species, which are the ultimate causes of population declines and extinctions. Profound understanding of the ultimate causes of population declines is of vital importance in our quest to stop the biodiversity loss. Species that are classified as threatened in the IUCN Red Lists face the highest risk of extinction. Comparisons of the ecological characteristics of threatened and non-threatened species may reveal the causes of extinction risk and help in conserving species that are at the highest risk.