Katja Heubel


Description of research and teaching

Sexual selection, life-history evolution, communication and signal evolution, sexual conflict, context dependent mating decisions, behavioural adaptations to changing ecological contexts, stability of sexual-asexual coexistence.

Research interests
Generally, my research interests lie in the field of behavioural ecology and evolutionary ecology. Functional aspects are the core foundations of my research interests. I am intrigued by interactions among individuals, between sexes, competitors, or coexisting species. The relations of such behaviour to its social and environmental context and its population level consequences are the main focus of my research interests. I consider the research questions per se as more important than the specific species chosen to test my hypotheses. Most rewarding to me are systems and research questions that allow a variety of experimental approaches to challenge theory.

Sexual selection is an interesting field that allows me to combine behaviour, evolution, ecology, and population biology in my research and enables me to apply both theoretical and empirical approaches. I am currently mainly interested in context-dependent plasticity of sexual selection. Studies of sexual selection have traditionally been focussing on female choice or male-male competition. The interaction of the two processes and especially the opposite phenomena, male choice and female-female competition have been less frequently studied. Similarly, female ornaments in species with conventional sex roles have received very little attention and their function and evolution are still not fully understood. Another unsolved puzzle in evolutionary biology that I have been fascinated by is the paradox of sexual-asexual coexistence.

In the future, I aim to study how sexual selection and natural selection interact. Most research on sexual selection thus far has been carried out while ignoring the social and population ecological context. My future line of research will shed light on the links between individual behaviour and population ecology. Within this framework, I will address interactions between choice and competition, study the plasticity and evolution of sex roles within and across populations with diverging ecological contexts.

Teaching philosophy
I enjoy and value teaching as an essential part of a researcher’s role in the scientific community. I find teaching most rewarding when I can link it to current research and when I succeed in inspiring and motivating students in a way that the learning content becomes the student’s own interest. I try to facilitate learning and my aim is to offer a stimulating and motivating environment. I encourage students to make progress through independent activities rather than memorizing. The allegory of a midwife illustrates my teaching philosophy and personal perception of the teacher’s role. She has the routine, calmness, experience, knowledge and can help, assist, demand, and sometimes even give orders – but the student has eventually to do the work and give birth herself. However, it is also the midwife’s responsibility to ensure a safe and suitable environment and atmosphere. I especially appreciate teaching practicals and field courses as well as contents and methods that are related and interconnected with my current research interests.

Further information on the affiliationIn August 2011 i moved to Germany. I am holding an independent research group leader position at the University of Cologne, Germany. Nevertheless i am maintaining my ties to Finland: I am still a docent (Adjunct Professor) in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the Department of Biosciences and regularly conduct field work at Tvärminne Zoological Station with my group.

Curriculum Vitae

Katja U. Heubel

Present position

Docent (DSc, Adjunct Professor, Privatdozent) in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Helsinki

Research Associate Grietherbusch Research Station, General Ecology, Institute for Zoology, Department of Biology, University of Cologne, Germany.

Academic education and degrees

2009 Docent (DSc, Adjunct Professor, Privatdozent) in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Helsinki.

2004 Doctorate degree (Dr. rer. nat.), University of Hamburg, Germany. Thesis: “Population ecology and sexual preferences in the mating complex of the unisexual Amazon molly Poecilia formosa”.

2000 - 2001 Research fellowship for PhD studies at the University of Texas, Austin, USA.

1999 Diplom (equivalent to MSc Biology), University of Kiel, Germany. Thesis: “The mating system of the fruit fly Myoleja lucida

Previous positions

2011-2016 Research Associate Animal Evolutionary Ecology, University of Tübingen, Germany.

2009 - 2011 University lecturer for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Theoretical Ecology), Biosciences, University of Helsinki.

2007 - 2009 Postdoctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Dept. Biological and Environmental Sciences.

2005 - 2006 Postdoctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, Dept. Biological and Environmental Sciences.

2004 Research and teaching assignments, Zoological Institute, University of Hamburg, Germany.

1999 - 2003 Research associate, Zoological Institute, University of Hamburg, Germany.

1995 - 1998 Research assistant, Centre of Ecology, University of Kiel, Germany. Ecosystem research of the “Bornhöved Lake System”.

Latest publications

  1. Acoustic and visual courtship traits in two sympatric marine Gobiidae species - Pomatoschistus microps and Pomatoschistus minutus

    Blom, E-L., Mueck, I., Heubel, K. & Svensson, O. Dec 2016 In : Environmental Biology of Fishes. 99, 12, p. 999-1007 9 p.

    Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

  2. Water mold infection but not paternity induces selective filial cannibalism in a goby

    Vallon, M., Anthes, N. & Heubel, K. U. Oct 2016 In : Ecology and Evolution. 6, 20, p. 7221-7229 9 p.

    Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

  3. Male personality and female spawning consistency in a goby with exclusive male care

    Kalb, N., Lindström, K., Sprenger, D., Anthes, N. & Heubel, K. U. May 2016 In : Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 70, 5, p. 683-693 11 p.

    Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

View all (21) »

Latest activities

  1. 5th Nordic Goby meeting

    Heubel, K. (Chair of organizing committee)
    6 Mar 20139 Mar 2013

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

  2. BMC Evolutionary Biology (Journal)

    Heubel, K. (Reviewer)
    2012 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

  3. Journal of Evolutionary Biology (Journal)

    Heubel, K. (Reviewer)
    2012 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

View all (70) »

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