Hole-nesting passerines

    Long-term monitoring has been undertaken on nestbox-breeding populations of collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis), great tits (Parus major) and blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) established in 1982 in Pilis Landscape Protected Area (today: Duna-Ipoly National Park, Pilis Mountains). By frequent checks (which are exceptionally well tolerated by these species) across each breeding season, we record start of nest-building, laying date, number of eggs laid, hatching date, hatching success, and breeding success. We capture, identify and measure as many breeding adults as possible. Nestlings are measured and ringed at 13D of age (15D in tits). High breeding site fidelity of collared flycatchers allows us to follow individuals throughout their reproductive life span. Our current research on collared flycatchers and tits addresses

  • determinants of fitness across the annual cycle, quantitative genetics of fitness-related traits,
  • physiological measures of individual quality (immunocompetence, blood parasite load, oxidative stress tolerance etc.),
  • mechanisms of sexual selection: mate choice and sperm competition,
  • proximate determination and information content of male traits under sexual selection: components of song and coloration,
  • prenatal parental favouritism in relation to male, female and offspring quality (sex ratios, egg content).


Determinants of reproductive success in male Green lizards (Lacerta viridis)

    We are studying a green lizard population in the vicinity of Tápiószentmárton, inhabiting a forest-grassland mosaic. We attempt to capture all adults in one grassland patch (ca. 0.5 ha, surrounded by forest, but obviously not fully isolated) year by year, and besides taking morphological measures (colour, size, head size, weight, tail condition, number of femoral pores, etc.) we individually mark them and release them at the site of capture. Later, during the reproductive season we repeatedly search the area, and note the places where the animals are seen. Besides this fieldwork, we conduct various experiments with animals in captivity; these includes mate choice tests, male-male fight tests, and tests aiming to quantify offspring quality in relation to several factors.

Our main questions are:
  • How do certain male signals (e.g. visual: blue throat patch, UV throath patch; or chemical: several chemical components identified from the femoral secretions) relates to male size, body condition, level of parasite load, and environmental conditions?
  • Do females assess males according to their signals?
  • Do the signals correlate with the reproductive strategy (territorial vs. floater) of the male lizards?
  • Does female mate choice manifest as a direct reproductive benefit for the females in terms of offspring quality?


    Populations of seven amphibian species have been monitored in a protected area belonging to the Duna-Ipoly National Park since 1999. Population dynamics are followed; physical, chemical and vegetational characterization of breeding ponds is being done for the study of habitat needs of the occurring amphibian species. Simultaneously, we experimentally study sexual and natural selection in a row of amphibian species including Bufo bufo, Rana dalmatina, R. temporaria, R. arvalis.

Our current research on anuran amphibians focusses on

  • mating systems ruled by sexual coercion: determinants of female fitness, indirect and cryptic female choice,
  • factors determining fertilization success, female survival and male paternity share in simultaneously polyandrous matings,
  • limitations to the reproductive potential of males,
  • identification of male traits under sexual selection,
  • predator-induced phenotypic plasticity in behaviour, morphology and chemical defenses in anuran larvae.

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