Research interests

  • Sexual selection
  • Chemical communication
  • Behavioral Ecology
  • Evolutionary Biology



Scientific projects

The role of sexual selection in the evolution of chemical signals in the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides

Burying beetles (Nicrophorus spp.) (Coleoptera: Silphidae) are an eligible model organism to study the role of sexual selection in chemical communication, because their communication system and mate finding behavior is driven by volatile male pheromones. Males release a sex pheromone to attract females at species-specific times a day or when they have found a carcass suitable for reproduction. This pheromone signal might play a role in mate choice as some males appear to be more attractive to females than others.

In my current study, I will use a combination of manipulative experiments, behavioural observations and chemical analyses to test whether the male sex pheromone of Nicrophorus vepilloides is a condition-dependent signal and contains reliable information about the phenotypic or genotypic quality of a male. Furthermore, I will test in field studies, whether females are able to perceive differences among males and make specific choices based on their pheromone emission.



Chemnitz J, Jentschke PC, Ayasse M, Steiger S (2015) Beyond species recognition: somatic state affects long-distance sex pheromone communication. Proc R Soc B 282:20150832

Conference contributions

Chemnitz, J, Jentschke, PC, Ayasse, M & Steiger, S (2015) Beyond species recognition: Nutritional state, age, body size and parasite load affect long distance sex pheromone communication in the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides. 108th annual meeting of the German Zoological Society, Graz, Austria. (Talk)


M.Sc. Johanna Chemnitz
Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics
University of Ulm
Helmholtzstraße 10-1 Containerstadt
D-89081 Ulm, Germany
Tel. +49 (0)731 50 22696
Fax +49 (0)731 50 22683
Office: E2.14