Research Group: 
Running period: 
2018 to 2021

In animals, as in humans, not all individuals pair for life. Pair-bonds and their stability likely affect survival and reproduction and hence influence all major evolutionary and ecological processes. Yet, we are far from understanding why some pairs persist while others do not, and how this stability influences fitness. Such processes extend beyond the breeding season, but this has been almost exclusively neglected in previous studies.

Three key objectives of this project are to quantify:

1) The relative contribution of winter (non-breeding period) and breeding season environment (e.g. resource predictability) and demography (e.g. winter residency) to among population variation in pair-bond stability.

2) The survival costs of divorce and the population-level factors affecting these costs for both sexes across the life-time.

3) The effect of fine-scale winter social environment of females and males on divorce probability and the survival costs of divorce.

The integrative character of the project requires data on populations with very different habitat characteristics. Thus, the project will compile the largest world-wide, long-term database (>60 populations) on a wild species (the great tit). This leads to the final project aim:

4) Develop an Open Science platform for data-sharing and collaboration among ecologists working with long-term wild populations. 




NWO veni research grant

Research team