Epigenetics & Evolution

Epigenetics is a key topic in the context of the modern synthesis of evolution, of intergenerational effects, health policies, healthcare interventions, global change and many more. It is not clear to date what role epigenetic mechanisms play for wild animal populations under real environmental conditions. At the same time, epigenetic markers have great potential in wildlife health management because they are sensitive and may reveal diseases, environmental change or exposure to pollutants before any damage becomes apparent. We investigate the role of epigenetics for the fitness, plasticity, and adaptation of vertebrates in changing environments. We combine molecular biology with ecology and evolution to understand how wild vertebrates store and inherit environmental exposures and experiences. Our aim is to understand fundamental mechanisms of biology on the one hand and applications as markers for disease, environmental change or pollution on the other hand.