Frigg Speelman

Frigg Speelman
Frigg Speelman

Project: Fitness benefits and heritability of long-term partnerships

In socially monogamous species, pair-bonds may persist over multiple breeding seasons, which can have important fitness consequences. Therefore, partnerships are of fundamental evolutionary importance, yet studies predominantly focus on the benefits of extra-pair copulations, making the framework of life-history evolution with regard to partnerships incomplete. During my PhD, I will explore why some partnerships are maintained whereas others are not. I will quantify the causes and consequences of partnerships and divorce, and the evolutionary potential of pair-bond behaviour to respond to selection. The Seychelles warbler study system is ideally suited for this, since it provides access to highly detailed long term data in a socially monogamous species.

The goal of my research project is to understand the evolution of long-term mate fidelity and divorce. This will include generating an understanding of the adaptive and potentially non-adaptive selection pressures at play, the genetic basis and heritability of these pair-bond behaviours, and the evolutionary pathways that lead to their emergence. The results of this research could have major implications on the general understanding of social monogamy.

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