Expertise Marcel Visser, NIOO-KNAW

Department of Animal Population Biology (APB) Centre for Terrestrial Ecology (CTE) Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)

Two aspects dominate the research programme of this department. First, we are interested in the population-level consequences of processes operating at the level of the individual. This automatically leads to the study of variation among individuals. Secondly, we are interested in the interactions between causal processes (proximate mechanisms) and their effects on fitness (ultimate consequences). The proximate mechanisms are studied both under controlled conditions and in field experiments, while fitness consequences are studied using analyses of descriptive data and field experiments. The great tit (Parus major) is our main study species.



  • Sexing birds
  • markers (microsatellites, AFLP’s)
  • Microsoft Access Relational Database


  • Bioinformatics


  • Focus on: Life-history of animals; adapting to changing conditions
  • Research objects: Birds and insects
  • Main research discipline:  ecological and evolutionary biology

Project Topics:

  • The breeding biology of the great tit, blue tit and pied flycatcher.
  • Timing of growth and reproduction: ultimate functions and proximate mechanisms.
  • Heritability and gene-environment interaction of different personalities and their functional significance for fitness, population dynamics and micro-evolution in the Great Tit.
  • Spatial heterogeneity and population structure
  • Songbird Genomics: High throughput genetics and QTL mapping in wild passerines
  • Evolutionary genetics of avian personalities
  • Molecular ecology of birds