Animal hosts harbour a multitude of bacterial symbionts in their digestive tracts and one of my main interests are to understand what ecological and environmental factors influence assemblies of these complex communities. I have used both natural and manipulation studies to investigate these drivers in multiple tropical bird species from New Guinea, Great tits (Parus major) in Europe, and captive Eupsittuala Parakeets.
My work during my PhD demonstrated that:
i) use of non-invasive cloacal swabs and museum alcohol specimens are appropriate to characterize wild avian gut microbiomes,
ii) non-phylosymbiotic avian gut microbiome compositions are driven by flight-adapted gut length modifications,
iv) gut microbial symbionts associated with similar dietary items differ between different host taxa in wild.
Currently, I am involved with two ongoing collaborative bird gut microbiome projects, with
1. David Diez Méndez and Katerina Sam on "understanding the consequences of disturbance to gut microbiomes of developing Great and Blue tits".
2. Elodie Floriane Mandel-Briefer and Karina Stampe Ernst to supervise two MSc students (Marcus Glahder and Camilla Friis Hoffman) to "investigate the influence of social interactions on vocal and gut microbial convergence in Eupsittuala Parakeets".