How is phenotypic variation in great tits (Parus major) maintained by sexual selection?
This exciting project is funded by a Marie Curie Career Integration grant. This project is led by Lies Zandberg (PhD student) and is a collaboration with Kees van Oers (Netherlands Institute for Ecology).
We investigate the potential of individual differences in mate choice and reproductive investment to maintain phenotypic variation in great tits. Great tits vary between individuals in plumage characteristics. Individual birds are expected to differ in their mate preferences and reproductive allocation in relation to their own individual characters, which may help to maintain variation within the population. The project involves performing captive mate choice trials with wild great tits, as well as extensive fieldwork to measure reproductive investment. There is also the opportunity to complement this behavioural and phenotypic work with genetic information.