Current Research Projects

Food quality and parental food allocation patterns in the hoopoe (Upupa epops)

‘Parentally biased favouritism’ is a fascinating phenomenon and happens whenever the pattern of investment in offspring differs between parents, i.e. the two parents preferentially feed a different subset of their offspring. Hoopoes (Upupa epops) are cavity-breeding birds with asynchronous hatching. This leads to a size hierarchy among the chicks, where begging intensity is related to chick hunger and additionally chick size. Both factors are expected to influence parental feeding patterns.The aim of the project is to investigate the effects of variation in food quality (i.e. prey size) and habitat quality (ground vegetation characteristics in intensive orchards) on adult feeding patterns and its consequences on reproductive success. By quantifying the fine-scaled variation in parental feeding patterns this project is designed to address an important and hitherto neglected aspect of reproductive success that will have implications towards understanding the life-history and population dynamics of hoopoes and should lead to management recommendations of intensively managed orchards.

People involved: Sophie Ryser (MSc 2011), Nicolas Guillod (BSc 2011, MSc 2012), Claire Bottini (MSc 2011), Raphaël Arlettaz, Michael Schaub

Cascading effects of habitat fragmentation along a food chain: biodiversity restoration in vineyard ecosystems

This project investigates the effects of fragmented vineyards with ground vegetation on animal communities with a specific focus on predator-prey relationships. As a model system we will use the woodlark Lullula arborea as predator and its arthropod prey. From previous own studies we know that woodlarks have a preference for habitat patches with enhanced ground vegetation during foraging and territory settlement. The landscape in our study system presents an extreme example of human-induced fragmentation in agricultural landscapes: the vineyards in the Swiss Canton Valais ~ 95% of all parcels of land are intensively managed and are devoid of any ground vegetation due to regular herbicide application. Within this sea of hostile environment, a few farmers have adopted an environmentally friendly management regime allowing vegetation to grow on the ground (~ 5%). In this project, we use the combination of correlative and experimental field studies to investigate the direct effects of habitat fragmentation and habitat amount on the abundance and diversity of insect prey as well as on the habitat use of the woodlark.

Sponsor: Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant 31003A_149780)

People involved: Laura Bosco (BSc 2012, MSc 2013, PhD ongoing), Livio Rey (BSc 2013), Roman Bühler (BSc 2014), Corina Maurer, (MSc 2017), Elisabeth Klaus (MSc 2017), Valentin Moser (student), Raphaël Arlettaz


Tripet F., A. Jacot & H. Richner. 2002. Consequences of larval competition on the life histories and dispersal behavior of the bird flea Ceratophyllus gallinae. Ecology, 83(4), 935–945. (PDF, 239KB)

Buechler K., P. S. Fitze, B. Gottstein, A. Jacot & H. Richner. 2002. Parasite-induced maternal responses in a natural bird population. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2002, 71, 247–252. (PDF, 0Bytes)

Holzer B., A. Jacot & M. W. G. Brinkhof. 2003. Condition-dependent signaling affects male sexual attractiveness in field crickets Gryllus campestris. Behavioral Ecology, 14, 353-359 (PDF, 137KB)

Scheuber H., A. Jacot & M. W. G. Brinkhof. 2003. Condition dependence of a multicomponent sexual signal in the field cricket Gryllus campestris. Animal Behaviour, 2003, 65, 721-727. (PDF, 196KB)

Scheuber H.*, A. Jacot* & M. W. G. Brinkhof. 2003. The effect of past condition on a multicomponent sexual signal. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B., 2003, 270, 1779-1784. (PDF, 226KB)

Jacot A., H. Scheuber & M.W.G. Brinkhof. 2004. Costs of an induced immune response on sexual display and longevity in field crickets. Evolution, 2004, 58(10), 2280-2286. (PDF, 137KB)

Scheuber H., A. Jacot & M.W.G. Brinkhof. 2004. Female preference for multiple condition-dependent components of a sexually selected signal. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B, 2004, 271, 2453-2457. (PDF, 117KB)

Jacot A., H. Scheuber, J. Kurtz & M.W.G. Brinkhof. 2005. Juvenile immune system activation induces a costly up-regulation of adult immunity in field crickets Gryllus campestris. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B, 2005, 272, 63-69. (PDF, 144KB)

Jacot A., H. Scheuber, J. Kurtz & M.W.G. Brinkhof. 2005. Juvenile immune status affects the expression of a sexually selected trait in field crickets. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 18, 1060-1068. (PDF, 235KB)

Jacot A. & B. Kempenaers. 2007. Effects of nestling condition on UV-plumage traits in blue tits: an experimental approach. Behavioural Ecology, 18, 34-40. (PDF, 244KB)

Jacot A., H. Scheuber & M.W.G. Brinkhof. 2007. The effect of age on a sexually selected acoustic display. Ethology, 113, 615-620. (PDF, 472KB)

Jacot A., H. Scheuber, B. Holzer, O. Otti & M.W.G. Brinkhof. 2008. Diel variation in a dynamic sexual display and its association with female mate searching behaviour. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B ,275, 579-585. (PDF, 195KB)

Jacot A., Valcu M., van Oers K. & B. Kempenaers. 2009. The effects of a nest site limitation on alternative reproductive strategies and parental investment in a hole-nesting passerine. Animal Behaviour, 77, 1075-1083. (PDF, 295KB)

Jacot A., M. Valcu & B. Kempenaers. 2010. Within-season divorce in blue tits. Journal of Ornithology, 151, 477-482. (PDF, 227KB)

Jacot A., C. Romero-Diaz, B. Tschirren, H. Richner & P.S. Fitze. 2010. Dissecting carotenoid from structural components of carotenoid-based coloration: a field experiment with great tits (Parus major). American Naturalist, 176, 55-62. (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Jacot A., H. Reers & W. Forstmeier. 2010. Individual recognition and potential recognition errors in parent-offspring communication. Behavioural Ecology & Sociobiology, 64, 1515-1525. (PDF, 536KB)

Reers H. & A. Jacot. 2011. The effects of hunger on individuality in begging calls of a colonially breeding weaver bird. BMC Ecology, 11: 3. (PDF, 387KB)

Reers H., A. Jacot, W. Forstmeier. 2011. Do parents fail to recognize their own offspring? PloS One, 6(4): e18466. (PDF, 361KB)

Otti O., I. Gantenbein-Ritter, A. Jacot & M.W.G. Brinkhof. 2012. Predation is a cost of immunity. Evolution, 66(3), 732-39.

Reers, H., Forstmeier, W., & Jacot, A. 2013. Acoustic similarity to parental calls promotes response to unfamiliar calls in zebra finch fledglings. Animal Behaviour, 86(1), 159-167. (PDF, 505KB)

Reers, H., Leonard, M. L., Horn, A. G., & A. Jacot. 2014. Parent–environmental interactions shape acoustic signatures in tree swallows: a cross‐fostering experiment. Journal of Avian Biology, 45(2), 123-130. (PDF, 246KB)

Strebel G., A. Jacot, P. Horch P. & R. Spaar 2015. Effects of grassland intensification on Whinchats Saxicola rubetra and implications for conservation in upland habitats. Ibis, 157, 250-59. (PDF, 231KB)

Guillod N., R. Arlettaz & A. Jacot. 2016. Impact of spatial variation of a crucial prey, the molecricket, on hoopoe territory occupancy and reproduction Journal of Avian Biology, 47, 1-9. (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Ryser S., N. Guillod, C. Bottini, R. Arlettaz & A. Jacot. 2016. Sex-specific food provisioning patterns by parents in the asynchronously hatching European hoopoe. Animal Behaviour, 117, 15-20. (PDF, 431KB)

Bühler R., L. Bosco, R. Arlettaz & A. Jacot. 2017. Nest site preference of the ground-breeding Woodlark (Lullula arborea) and its association with artificial nest predation. Acta Oecologica, 78, 41-46. (PDF, 427KB)

Guyot C., P. Korner, R. Arlettaz & A. Jacot. 2017. Temporal and spatial scales matter: Circannual habitat selection by bird communities in vineyards. PLoS One, 12(2): e0170176. (PDF, 3.2 MB)