Evolutionary Ecology

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Petri Niemela

Dr. Petri Niemela



Department Biologie II,
Großhaderner Str.2
82152 Planegg-Martinsried

Room: B02.026
Phone: +49 89 2180 74 214

Research project:


How social environments affect the selection on animal behavioural types


Funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Postdoc Petri T. Niemelä, Advisor: N.J. Dingemanse


The social environment, i.e. interactions between conspecifics, represents one of the most dynamic environmental forces that individuals face, because the individual’s own behaviour as well as conspecifics’ behaviours jointly defines the frequency and intensity of the interactions. Overall fitness of an individual is expected to depend not only on its own behavioural type, but also on the interaction between its own behavioural type and the composition of behavioural types in the population (i.e. its social environment). Differences between behavioural types in time budget conflicts (i.e. activity in one context is adaptive while in other context it is maladaptive) are suggested as one of the main mechanisms mitigating fitness differences between behavioural types in nature and may depend on the social environment. However, despite its role in competition, co-operation and mating, the ecological and evolutionary implications of the social environment have largely been neglected in animal personality studies. In this project, I study 1) whether behavioural plasticity is a function of behavioural type and the social environment and if 2) differences in life-time reproduction success depend on the interaction between behavioural type and social environment. As a model species, I use native field cricket species, Gryllus campestris.



Niemelä, P.T. & Dingemanse, N.J. 2017. Trustworthiness of online beer ratings as a source of social information. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 71:24.

DiRienzo, N, Niemelä, P.T., AV Hedrick, A.V., Kortet, R. 2016. Adult bacterial exposure increases behavioral variation and drives higher repeatability in field crickets. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 70: 1941-1947.

Niemelä, P.T. & Santostefano, F. 2015. Social carry-over effects on non-social behavioral variation: mechanisms and consequences. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 3:49.

Niemelä, P.T., Lattenkamp, E.Z. & Dingemanse, N.J. 2015. Personality-related survival and sampling bias in wild cricket nymphs. Behavioral Ecology 26:936-946.

DiRienzo, N., Niemelä, P.T., Skog, A., Vainikka, A. & Kortet, R. 2015. Juvenile pathogen exposure affects the presence of personality in adult field crickets. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 3:36.

Härkönen, L., Hyvärinen, P., Niemelä, P.T. & Vainikka, A. 2015. Behavioural variation in Eurasian perch populations with respect to relative catchability. Acta Ethologica 1-11.

Niemelä, P.T. & Dingemanse, N.J. 2014. Artificial environments and the study of ‘adaptive’ personalities. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 29:245-247.

Niemelä, P.T., Dingemanse, N.J., Alioravainen, N., Vainikka, A. & Kortet, R. 2013. Personality pace-of-life hypothesis: testing genetic associations among personality and life-history. Behavioral Ecology 24:935-941.

Niemelä, P.T., Vainikka, A., Forsman, J., Loukola, O. & Kortet, R. 2013. How does variation in the environment and individual cognition explain the existence of consistent behavioral differences? Ecology and Evolution 3:457-464.

Kortet, R., Niemelä, P.T., Vainikka, A. & Laakso, J. 2012. Females prefer bold males; an analysis of boldness, mate choice, and bacterial resistance in the Field cricket, Gryllus integer. Ecological Parasitology and Immunology 1:1-6.

Niemelä, P.T., Dirienzo, N. & Hedrick, A. 2012. Predator-induced changes in the boldness of naïve field cricket, Gryllus integer, depends on behavioural type. Animal Behaviour 84:129-135.

Niemelä, P.T., Vainikka, A., Hedrick, A. & Kortet, R. 2012. Integrating behavior with life-history: boldness of the field cricket, Gryllus integer, during ontogeny. Functional Ecology 26:450-456.

Niemelä, P.T., Vainikka, A., Lahdenperä, S. & Kortet, R. 2012. Nymphal density, behavioural development and life-history in a field cricket. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 66:645-652.

Vainikka, A., Koskimäki, J., Niemelä, P.T. & Kortet, R. 2011. Composition of the Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis) catches in ice fishing: Does capture order predict body size? Fisheries Research 115-116:24-30.

Vainikka, A., Rantala, M.J., Niemelä, P.T., Hirvonen, H. & Kortet, R. 2011. Boldness as a consistent personality trait in the noble crayfish, Astacus astacus. Acta Ethologica 14:17-25.