Priv.-Doz. Dr. H. Martin Schaefer
University Freiburg, Biology I
Hauptstrasse 1
D-79104 Freiburg
Phone: ++49 / 761 / 203 - 2531
Dr. H. Martin Schaefer lab - Home
Martin Schaefer Michael Bauer Julia Binkenstein Stefanie Hartmann Claudia Hermes
Dr. Martin Schaefer
Group leader
Michael Bauer
PhD Student
Julia Binkenstein
Stefanie Hartmann
PhD Student
Claudia Hermes
Diploma Student
Nadine Klauke Bruntje Lüdtke Raeann Mettler Emma Steigerwald Kalliope Stournaras
Nadine Klauke
PhD student
Bruntje Lüdtke
PhD student
Raeann Mettler
PhD student
Emma Steigerwald
Kalliope Stournaras
PhD student

book plant-animal communication

Schaefer, H. M. & G. Ruxton 2011: Plant-animal communication. Oxford University


Our research group studies three main research topics:
 the evolutionary ecology of visual communication in distinct signalling systems
 adaptation and rapid micro-evolution in different bird species
 conservation of endangered bird species in the Andes

We are particularly interested in the evolution of the design and content communication. To this end, we study both parameters in distinct signalling systems, the mutualistic interactions between pollinators, seed dispersers and plants, as well as antagonistic interactions between prey and predators and herbivores and plants.
Adaptation and micro-evolution
We study rapid micro-evolution in sympatric populations of the blackcap that differ in migratory routes. Adaptation to distinct migratory routes may lead as a by-product to reproductive isolation of the sympatric populations. In a different project we focus on the variability of the breeding system of the endangered El Oro Parakeet in Ecuador in different populations.

Together with Fundacion Jocotoco we develop effective conservation strategies to protect endangered taxa and maintain their genetic diversity. Fundacion Jocotoco owns currently ten privately owned reserves that protect ~70% of the >1600 bird species occurring in Ecuador.

Current projectstop

Signal diversity in fruits and flowers
DFG, VW Foundation (Julia Binkenstein, Julien Renoult, Kalliope Stournaras, Zhen Wang)

Polyphenols as health stimulants in birds
von Humboldt Foundation (to Michael Beaulieu)

Plant-frugivore interactions –testing phenotypic integration of fruit traits
DAAD grant together with Pedro Jordano and Alfredo Valido at the Integrative Ecology group, Sevilla, Spain.

Plant herbivore communication and plant mimicry
Marsden Grant with Prof. Kevin Gould, Nigel Perry and others (Iggy Menzies, Karl Yager, Luke Cooney)

Microevolution of the blackcap
DFG (Raeann Mettler)

Insect vectors mediate interactions between birds and their blood parasites

von Humboldt Foundation (To Diego Santiago)

Cooperative breeding and conservation of the endangered El Oro Parakeet
Loro Parque Foundation, VW Foundation (Nadine Klauke and Michael Bauer)

Conservation of the endangered Pale-headed Brushfinch

Fundacion Jocotoco, Graduate School Environment, Society, and Global Change (Steffi Hartmann)

Support organisationstop

Our research group has received five different grants from the DFG (German Science Foundation in recent years for work on communication systems.

We are supported by three grants from the Evolutionary Biology program of the VW Foundation (, and received two von Humboldt Fellowships ( and five DAAD exchange grants. The DAAD ( is funding a current exchange programme with the research group of Prof. Rodrigo Medel (, University of Chile and Prof. Pedro Jordano ( and Dr. Alfredo Valido at the Estación Biológica de Doñana, Sevilla, Spain). Our group has also received support in PhD programmes. Wang Zhen from the Chinese Research Council, Steffi Hartmann from the Graduate School Environment, Society, and Global Change.


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