My research aims at understanding the proximate and ultimate mechanisms that promote and stabilize social behaviour in animal societies. I focus on social mammals and my students and I work both in the field and the laboratory.
Using mostly bat species as models, we analyse the causes and consequences of sociality, in particular cooperative behaviour and group decision-making. We also investigate how different mating systems and dispersal strategies shape social systems and genetic population structures. Further research interests include host-parasite interactions, biogeography, and conservation biology.
In a combined approach, we apply behavioural, comparative, ecological, molecular, physiological, and simulation based methods. In the field, we use modern techniques such as automatic monitoring of animals marked with PIT-tags, radio-telemetry, thermography, and infrared-video monitoring. Genetic methods include analyses of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA microsatellites as well as DNA sequencing.
My research has a strong link to conservation. We use our investigations to understand processes relevant for the protection of endangered species and suggest directions for habitat management.
During the last 14 years, I established a long-term study on the Bechstein's bat (Myotis bechsteinii) in Central and Eastern Europe. This project, which includes several international collaborations, allows detailed insights into the influence of the environment on the genetic composition, ecology, and behaviour of populations.