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Genes and environment – Life history strategies of the European common frog

Questions to be investigated

The main question of my research is the evolution of life history strategies, where I use the European Common Frog (Rana temporaria) as a model system. Life history strategies are based on decisions made by an individual, how to allocate energy (resources) to growth, development and reproduction to maximize individual fitness. Hence, a large number of different strategies have evolved between and within species. I will take a closer look at mating tactics, genetic variability, environmental influences and landscape conditions on life history strategies and dispersal abilities in a cultural landscape. Questions to answer will be if individuals with similar traits are more likely to mate (assortative mating) or how mothers influence the metamorphic traits of their progeny and if multiple paternity adds variability to that traits. Additionally, I want to know how local weather conditions influence population fluctuations and body condition in different years.


Our group has been monitoring natural common frog (Rana temporaria) population for the past 10 years. Therefore, I have access to an enormous dataset which bears the potential to understand the processes that could lead to the evolution of life history strategies. I will use genetic markers (microsatellites) to identify offspring from single clutches (mothers) to investigate the influence of genetic background on metamorphic traits. Additionally, I will use these markers within a network of different ponds to investigate how human land use is structuring populations of amphibians. Therefore I will use the methods of landscape genetics.


The project is a collaboration with Prof. Dr. Heike Feldhaar from the University of Bayreuth (Population Ecology of Animals).


Elsa-Neumann PhD scholarship from the State of Berlin  

Selected Publications

Dittrich et al. 2017 Temporal migration pattern and mating tactics influence size-assortative mating in Rana temporaria. Behavioral Ecology.