In natural mating systems (e.g. female choice, male dominance etc.) some individuals have higher reproductive success than others. If those individuals with higher reproductive success would be of superior heritable genetic quality (e.g. increased offspring viability), individuals in the next generation would be of higher genetic quality compared to those of the current generation. Consequently natural mating systems could lead to an increase in genetic quality of a population from one generation to the next. But it seems also clear that if some individuals have an increased reproductive success compared to others the loss of genetic variation in the population from one generation to the next will rather be high as not all individuals contribute equally to the gene pool of the next generation. As a lot of populations of endangered species are supported with captive breeding programs, in which the reproductive success of individuals is more or less controlled by humans it is important to think about an optimised solution for increasing the genetic quality of a population but simultaneously minimizing the loss of genetic variation from one generation to the next. Trying to find those solutions we do experimental work with Salmonids (e.g. Brown trout, Whitefish) that could help to improve general management principals for various supported species.
In a second project we have the similar goal of finding optimal management strategies for increasing the long-term survival of endangered species. Population models basing on data of existing populations (e.g. Lesser Kestrel & Bearded Vulture) are developed so that the genetic consequences of different management strategies (e.g. sex ratio shifting & equalisation of reproductive success) can be measured and their usefulness can be determined.
During my master thesis I was investigating possible explanations for the evolution of genitalia complexity. This included a functional morphologic and a taxonomic study on scorpion male genitalia (Euscorpius sp.). Furthermore I did several scorpion-mating experiments to define forces driving sexual selection.