Karina Alejandra Vázquez-Rojas

Verhaltensgenetik und Evolutionäre Ökologie
+49 8157 932 423


I’m an evolutionary geneticist studying evolution of species by analyzing changes in their genome. In the past I used bioinformatics to study population and evolutionary genomics in birds and mollusks, and microbial ecology in shrimps and humans. Recently, I became interested in applying genomics to questions of conservation to understand population dynamics and ultimately improve conservation management.

Recent advances have made whole genome sequences (WGS) feasible even in many non-model organisms. This allows to ask fundamental evolutionary questions tailored to species with interesting variation in life-history, ecology and behavior. I am particularly interested in examining species with similar ecology but that differ in mating behavior and show sex-ratio variation since theory predicts that these two factors shape genome diversity. Together with an increasing understanding about demography, ecology and behavior I’m addressing fundamental questions such as: How does sexual selection affect genomic diversity?

In my current project I investigate the evolution of different genomic regions in plovers Charadriae, an ecological model system with substantial variation in mating and parental care behavior. For a start, I’m working on population and conservation genomics of the Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus), which has been categorized as “Near Threatened”. This species is characterized by a polyandrous mating system and strongly male biased populations. I plan then compare our genetic results with those of other plovers, Killdeer and Wilson’s Plover (C. vociferous and C. wilsonia respectively), that occupy typically the same or similar habitats and overlaps with the Snowy Plover much of the species range. Because the three species differ in their mating systems, I will be able to test whether and how the mating system leads to differences in genomic diversity. Finally, I plan to integrate genomic data with precise movement data and reproductive histories of individual Snowy Plovers currently collected through a large collaborative effort spear headed by our group.


·       Since 2020: PhD Student. Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, now Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence. Thesis Topic: Genomic variation in effective populations size under female polyandry and monogamy. 

·       2015-2018: M.Sc. in Biology through program “Use, Management and Preservation of Natural Resources”. Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, S. C. Mexico. Thesis Title: “Genetic structure through SNPs in stocks of the Cortes geoduck (Panopea globosa; Dall 1898) in the Upper Gulf of California”

·       2010-2015: Undergraduate studies in Biology. Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. Mexico. Thesis Title: “Phylogeography of the golden-browed warbler Basileuterus belli through the analysis of the ND2 mitochondrial gene".

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