Lies Zandberg


Curriculum Vitae

Lies Zandberg studied biology at Wageningen University where she received both her BSc and MSc degrees. Within this master she worked on several research projects concerning social networks of horses, vocal recognition in jackdaw chicks (at the University of Cambridge) and the influence of personality on foraging and problem solving in great tits (at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology). In September 2013 she started her PhD project studying sexual selection and mate choice in great tits in the Behavioural Ecology group at the department of Animal Sciences of Wageningen University together with Dr. Camilla Hinde and Dr. Kees van Oers.


Research interests

  • Sexual selection
  • Mate preferences
  • Reproductive investment
  • Individual variation
  • Animal personality
  • Animal cognition
  • Animal communication

Project overview

How is phenotypic variation in great tits maintained by sexual selection?

Female choice for top quality males is expected to result in the evolution of exaggerated male secondary sexual characters. However, a strong directional preference for the ‘best’ males and their specific heritable traits would theoretically cause a fast decline in genetic variation among males. In natural populations under sexual selection however, diversity in ornaments and genes is still present. How, then, is genetic variation within populations maintained in the presence of sexual selection? This project proposes that individuals may vary in their mate preference, preferring mates with strengths that complement their own phenotype. Both male and female great tits display mutual ornaments, which are important in dominance interactions, advertisements of parental investment and sexual selection. We will perform mate choice experiments with wild great tits to test for their mate preferences.  Subsequently, in spring we will study how reproductive investment is influenced by the parents own phenotype, their previously tested mate preferences and the partner they obtained.

This project is in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and is supervised by Camilla Hinde (WUR) and co-supervised by Kees van Oers (NIOO-KNAW).