Director general, Centre for Ecological Research, Budapest
1) Acoustic communication and cultural evolution
We use a long-term dataset in a wild passerine model, the collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) to understand the roles of bird song in sexual selection and the spatial and temporal dynamics of syllable use at the population level. Applying modern phylogenetic comparative methods we investigate several selection factors that can potentially shape the tremendous amount of variation in bird song that can be observed at the among-species level.
2) The evolution of animal behaviour
Studying different model organisms (dog breeds, species of birds, lizards, frogs and beetles) we aim at uncovering the mechanisms that mediate the dual characterises of many behavioural traits in terms of plasticity and consistency. These aspects are of specific interest in the light of adaptation to rapidly and unpredictably changing environment.
3) Host-parasite interactions
Considering the perspectives of all participants in a phylogenetic framework, we perform researches to uncover the consequences of co-evolutionary arms race between hosts, parasites and their vectors. The main questions focus on the evolution of host immune defence, parasite virulence and mode of transmission.
4) The evolution of brain size and neural capacity
Relying on meta-analytic and phylogenetic comparative approaches, we study birds and dogs to discover selective constraints that favour the evolution of the neural space that governs the cognitive performance of animals under different environmental stimuli.
5) Research philosophy and statistical methods in ecology
We participate in the development and refinement of different statistical tools that are used in different fields of ecology, while we also play an important role in disseminating new methodologies within the user community.