Theoretical Evolutionary Ecology Group


    Our group has a focus on theoretical and conceptual work and this is also reflected in our contribution to the Department‘s teaching: We inform and train our students so that they learn and understand important (theoretical) concepts in ecology and evolution and are able to develop models on their own. Feel free to contact us whenever you want to know more about our activities.


    In the 4th term we offer a course teaching important concepts in population biology and evolutionary ecology (Grundlagen der Populationsbiologie, 0607748 SS 2016: sb@home, wuecampus) presenting some of the most important textbook models on these topics. Students also learn to implement such models on their own using the programming language R. 

    We participate with a section teaching basic statistics in the department’s “Tierökologie 2” (0607821: WS 2016/17 sb@home, wuecampus) course in the 5th term. We introduce students to the basic concepts of statistics in ecology and introduce R as a very useful tool to carry out statistical tests. The class includes lectures, exercises, and homework. Course participation is typically expected by students that aim for a bachelor-degree in the department.


    We contribute to the department’s “Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology F1” (0610011: SS 2016 sb@home) with a unit teaching “Modelling in Ecology” (can also be taken by bachelors in the 6th term). We focus on topics in spatial ecology, on how to ‘translate’ a verbal story into a formal model, and teach scientific programming.

    We also offer – after individual arrangement – courses at the F2 level (0610012: WS 2016/17 sb@home).

    Our group further contributes to the department’s lecture series Tierökologie and Tropenbiologie (0611001: WS 2016/17 sb@home) and the lecture series on timing and organismic biology (SFB Insect Timing) jointly held by the three zoology departments.

    We will also participate in the upcoming summer school on ecological modeling offered by the new Center of Computational and Theoretical Biology (link coming soon).


    We provide opportunities for preparing bachelor as well as master theses in our group – typically with a focus on development of theoretical models or computer simulations. For those interested in a bachelor-thesis we would typically expect participation in some of our courses and of enrolling in the “Tierökologie 3” or “Tierökologie 4” class in the 6th term. Feel free to contact us if you are interested and have any questions.

    Possible topics for future theses:

    • Divergent courtship behavior as explanation for coexistence of Drosophila ‘time-mutants’.
    • Area-restricted search and emergent metapopulation dynamics.
    • Storage-investment as a further life-history strategy in perennial social insects like honey bees.
    • Useful proximate triggers for the timing of activity onset in temperate social insects.
    • The influence of informed emigration on the speed of range expansions.
    • Move, tolerate or adapt: optimal strategies in changing environments.
    • Age-dependent survival and population demography of butterflies
    • Causes and consequences of individual variation in morphology, foraging behavior and survival of butterflies in natural populations

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