Research interests

  • Evolutionary Ecology
  • Parental care in burying beetles
  • Behavioural Ecology
  • Chemical communication

Scientific projects

Evolution and consequences of parental care in burying beetles

In general I am interested in life history traits, the behaviour of insects and the chemical communication driving this behaviour. In my master thesis I investigated female mate choice in the cricket Gryllodes sigillatus. By manipulating female cuticular hydrocarbon profiles I showed that females directly compare their own chemical profile to that of an encountered male when making mate choice decisions. This kind of self-recognition allows the avoidance of inbreeding in insects and can be a widespread mechanism for social recognition without requiring special forms of learning and memory.

In my PhD thesis I will concentrate on the behaviour and life history traits of burying beetles. The beetles from the genus Nicrophorus (Nicrophorinae) are well-known examples for providing elaborate biparental care including offspring feeding which only occurs in about 1% of all insect species. Using behavioural, physiological and molecular analyses I will examine the evolution of parental care and the consequences associated with it.



Capodeanu-Nägler A, Keppner EM, Vogel H, Ayasse M, Eggert AK, Sakaluk SK, Steiger S (2016) From facultative to obligatory parental care: Interspecific variation in offspring dependency on post-hatching care in burying beetles. Scientific Reports 6:29323

Steiger S, Capodeanu-Nägler A, Gershman SN, Weddle CB, Rapkin J, Sakaluk SK, Hunt J (2015) Female choice for male cuticular hydrocarbon profile in decorated crickets is not based on similarity to their own profile. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 28:2175-2186

Capodeanu-Nägler A, Rapkin J, Hunt J, Steiger S (2014) Self-recognition in crickets via on-line processing. Current Biology 24:R1118

Conference contributions

Capodeanu-Nägler A, Keppner EM, Vogel H, Ayasse M, Eggert AK, Sakaluk SK & Steiger S (2016) Variation in offspring dependency on post-hatching care in burying beetles. 16th conference of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology (ISBE), Exeter, UK. (Talk)

Capodeanu-Nägler A, Keppner EM, Ayasse M & Steiger S (2015) I need you mom and dad: variation in offspring dependency on parental care among burying beetles. 108th annual meeting of the German Zoological Society, Graz, Austria. (Talk)

Capodeanu-Nägler A, Sakaluk SK, Hunt J & Steiger S (2013) Scent and selectivity: multivariate sexual selection on cuticular hydrocarbons in the cricket Gryllodes sigillatus. Chemoökologentreffen Würzburg, Germany. (Talk)




  • M.Sc. Alexandra Capodeanu-Nägler
    Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics
    University of Ulm
    Albert-Einstein-Allee 11
    D-89081 Ulm, Germany
    Tel. +49 (0)731 50 22696
  • Fax +49 (0)731 50 22683
  • Office: M25 4114