Veronika Rohr-Bender

Doctoral Student
Behavioural Genetics and Evolutionary Ecology
+49 8157 932 414

Main Focus

I am interested in individual variation and how this contributes to diversity in behaviour and ecology. This is first a fundamental question addressed through basic science but I’m keen to apply the outcome of these studies to inform and improve conservation efforts and management. Individual differences during ontogeny may have immediate as well as long-term effects on fitness and survival. For my PhD, I am investigating the development and behaviour of ruff Calidris pugnax chicks raised in captivity. Ruffs are characterized by an unusual diversity in mating strategies. They feature three morphs (Independents, Faeders, Satellites) that are most prominently developed in breeding males. The morphs differ in aggression and courtship behaviour and are fully genetically determined by an inversion supergene located on an autosome. This means that females and chicks are also assigned to morphs although little is known about how the supergene variants modulate their behaviour and fitness. I will investigate morph and individual differences in size and feather development and their effect on long-term fitness. Further I will assess the variation in precocious sexual behaviour and classic personality traits in a controlled experimental setup.

Curriculum Vitae

2021 – Present: PhD student at Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, now Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence.
“Morph- und individual variation in development and behaviour in ruffs”. Research Group Behavioural Genetics and Evolutionary Ecology.
Advisor: Dr. Clemens Küpper.
Funded by a DBU Scholarship,

2017 – 2020: Master's student at Munich Graduate School for Evolution, Ecology and Systematics. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich and MPI Seewiesen
Master’s thesis on camouflage effects of fringed neoptile feathers in snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) chicks. Research Group Behavioural Genetics and Evolutionary Ecology.
Supervisor: Dr. Clemens Küpper

2014 – 2017: Bachelor of Science in Biology, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich
Bachelor thesis: “Variation in Birdsong and Aggression in Great Tits Parus major”, Research Group of Behavioural Ecology, Prof. Niels Dingemanse

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