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Molecular techniques such as microsatellite genotyping and DNA sequencing together with behavioral and ecological data from a longitudinal field study provide a powerful tool to approach evolutionary questions. Alliance formation among males for the purpose of competition over oestrous females provides an evolutionary conundrum, as males cooperate to obtain paternities - a resource that cannot be shared. In Shark Bay, Western Australia, male bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) form multi-level alliances. The first level is highly associated with herding of receptive females by two or three males (first-order alliance), whereas on the second level, cooperating first-order alliances (second-order alliance) may take females from other alliances or defend against such attacks.
In order to assess evolutionary explanations for male cooperation two hypotheses have been tested:
- How are paternities distributed within and among alliances? Is reproduction restricted to allied males?
A paternity assessment shed light on direct reproductive success.
- Hamilton’s kin selection theory provides indirect fitness benefits through cooperation with relatives. Are males within alliances more closely related than expected by chance?
PhD, University of New South Wales, Australia (2012)
MSc degree in Biology, Anthropology from the University of Zurich, Switzerland (2007)
BSc degree in Biology from the University of Zurich, Switzerland (2005)
- Ewa Krzyszczyk, Anna M. Kopps, Kathrin Bacher, Holly Smith, Nahiid Stephens, Nicola Meighan & Janet Mann. (accepted) A report on six cases of seagrass-associated gastric impaction in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp). Marine Mammal Science.
- Julian A. Tyne, Neil R. Loneragan, Anna M. Kopps, Simon J. Allen, Michael Krützen & Lars Bejder (2012). Ecological characteristics contribute to sponge distribution and tool use in bottlenose dolphins Tursiops sp.. Marine Ecology Progress Series 444:143-153.
- Céline H. Frère, Michael Krützen, Anna M. Kopps, Patrick Ward, Janet Mann & William B. Sherwin (2010). Inbreeding Tolerance and Fitness Costs in Wild Bottlenose Dolphins. Proceeding of the Royal Society B. 277, 2667-2673.
- Alexander Nater, Anna M. Kopps & Michael Krützen (2009). New polymorphic tetranucleotide microsatellites improve scoring accuracy in the bottlenose dolphin Tursiops aduncus. Molecular Ecology Resources 9, 531-534
"Ecological, social and genetic forces shaping behavioural variation in bottlenose dolphins“ PhD thesis, submitted to the University of New South Wales, Australia
“Who is the one? Paternity assessment in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) – a species with multilevel male-alliances” submitted to the University of Zurich, Switzerland, May 2007
- Kopps, A.M., Krützen, M., Allen, S.J. amp; Sherwin, W.B. Cultural hitchhiking leads to fine scale genetic structure. Oral presentation. 19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Tampa, Florida, 2011.
- Kopps, A.M., Connor, R.C., Sherwin, W.B. & Krützen, M.Direct and indirect fitness benefits of alliance formation in male bottlenose dolphins. Poster. 13th International Behavioral Ecology Congress, Perth, Australia, September 2010.
- Bacher, K., Smith, H., Krzyszczyk, E., Mann, J. & Kopps, A.M. What makes dolphins turn vegetarian? Poster. 24th Conference of the European Cetacean Society, Stralsund, Germany, 2010.
- Kopps, A.M., Connor, R.C., Sherwin, W.B. & Krützen, M. Direct and indirect fitness benefits of alliance formation in male bottlenose dolphins. Oral presentation. 18th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Québec City, Canada, 2009.
- Kopps, A.M., Connor, R. & Krützen, M. Who is the one? Paternity assessment in bottlenose dolphins –
a species with multilevel male-alliances. Oral presentation. 17th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Cape Town, South Africa, 2007.
- Kopps, A.M. & Krützen, M. Alliance formation and kinship in bottlenose dolphins. GöZü workshop, Göttingen, Germany. January 2007.
Relevant Research Experience
- Internship in immunology at the University of Oxford, England – April to August 2002
- Field assistant for Lucia Di Iorio (Acoustic communication in blue whales) – July to September 2005
- Course assistant for ‘Evolutionary Genetics of Primates’, University of Zurich, University of Zurich – Winter term 2005 & 2006