My research focuses primarily on combining physiology, ecology and behaviour throughout the annual-cycle in migratory birds. In particular, I am interested in the physiology underlying ecology and behaviour of bird migration. With respect to physiology, much of my work has centred on immune function. The immune system is fundamentally important for self-maintenance and promotes survival by reducing the probability of disease-related mortality, but it simultaneously incurs costs in terms of its production, maintenance and activation. This cost-benefit trade-off makes it a potentially important system in shaping the annual-cycle of birds.
During my PhD-project at the University of Groningen, I specialized on ecological physiology by focussing on links between ecology and immunology in Skylarks to gain a better ecological and evolutionary understanding of links between different annual-cycle stages in particular and of life-history evolution in general. Specifically, I shed light on physiological mechanisms shaping the annual-cycle of Skylarks. I used different approaches (e.g., observational and correlational studies, field and lab experiments), a variety of methods and techniques (from traditional behavioural observations to radio-telemetry and cutting-edge stable isotope analyses, immunological tests, and molecular analyses) and exploited the power of a fine-tuned combination of field and lab work. I defended my PhD-thesis in November 2012. Afterwards I continued this research in Groningen and worked as a PostDoc on causes and consequences of partial migration in Larks.
Here in Lund (Rubicon-PostDoc fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research), I will deepen my research on the physiology underlying movement behaviour in migratory and non-migratory birds. In particular, I will investigate the role of immune function as a physiological mechanism of carry-over effects. To study these aspects I will use fine-tuned combinations of different study systems, approaches, tools and techniques throughout the annual-cycle. For my projects I will work in close collaboration with Dennis Hasselquist, Jan-Ake Nilsson, Thomas Alerstam, Rachel Muheim and others.