Barn owls (Tyto alba) occur in a range of different habitats throughout the world. In Switzerland a continuous range of morphs from almost white without spots and heavily spotted red birds occur. This coloration is melanin-based. Theory predicts that if the coloration is linked to physiological or behavioural traits, natural selection should favour one of the morphs.
In my project I will investigate the adaptive function of this melanin based coloration. For this I will carry out field experiments as well as analyses on long-term datasets from barn owl (Tyto alba) populations. With the experiments we will try to identify selective agents underlying the difference in coloration found in the species.
Some of my other research interests are in speciation processes, hybrid zones and behavioral ecology in general.