Pioneer work in Behavioural Ecology ~

17 de noviembre de 2009

Pioneer work in Behavioural Ecology

Masters-project in Animal Ecology

Masters-project in Animal Ecology exploring Sensory Exploitation as an evolutionary engine of conspicuous male ornaments.

There exists a solid theoretic and empirical frame-work regarding how male sexual ornaments are maintained and what direct and indirect benefits females may reap from responding to such ornaments via mate choice. However, why females start paying attention to a male ornament early in its evolution is still largely unknown despite decades of study in the field of sexual selection.

Sensory exploitation is an attractive theory explaining this conundrum. It states that ornaments initially act via natural selection by for instance mimicking food items for which females hold inherent preferences. In this project we investigate the link between plasticity in female food preferences and male ornaments that mimic food items.

The project is lab-based, at the EBC, using two completely novel model fish species: the swordtail characin (Corynopoma riisei) and the semaphore tetra (Pterobrycon myrnae) who display distinct, unique male ornaments that are believed to have evolved through sensory exploitation. The project, which will be supervised by Docent Niclas Kolm and PhD-student Mirjam Amcoff, will describe and investigate various aspects of the link between female food preference and male ornaments and courtship behaviours in these species. Experimental manipulations will form the basis of the analyses to ensure that causality can be fully established.

Interested students can contact either Niclas Kolm ( or Mirjam Amcoff ( via e-mail or simply come up to the department of Animal Ecology for a chat and a tour of the lab-facilities.

Animal Ecology
Department of Ecology and Evolution
Evolutionary Biology Centre
University of Uppsala
Norbyvägen 18d
SE - 752 36 Uppsala

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