Research interests

  • Immune genomics
  • Viral, bacterial and parasitological health monitoring
  • Phylogeny and phylogeography
  • Parentage and relatedness analyses in wild mammals
  • Population genetics

Scientific projects

Evolution is based upon changes in the individual’s genetic prerequisites and to address various questions in behavioral ecology, population and conservation genetics the projects successfully collected sample material finds its way from the field into the molecular laboratories. 

I accompanied the possibilities of molecular investigations since the PCR conquered the labs and followed them from Sanger sequencing through 1st, 2nd to 3rd Next Generation Sequencing. The rapid development in molecular tools over the past 20 years is comparable with and only possible through the concurring development of computational possibilities.  These tools still open up new technical fields to address and answer ecological and evolutionary questions on a large scale basis.   

The department’s lab facilities enable among others the research on immune genomics by multi locus targeted sequencing of MHC genes, quantitative expression analysis of immune relevant genes, microbiome and viral genome assays, SSCP genotyping, molecular marker development, microsatellite screening and microscopic parasite load quantification.


East ML, Kurze C, Wilhelm K, Benhaiem S, Hofer H (2013) Factors influencing Dipylidium sp. Infection in a free-ranging social carnivore, the spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta). International Journal of Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife 2, 257-265.

Höner OP, Wachter B, Hofer H, Wilhelm K, Thierer D, Burke T, Trillmich F, East ML (2010) The fitness of dispersing spotted hyaena sons is influenced by maternal social status. Nature Communications 1, 60.

East ML, Höner OP, Wachter B, Wilhelm K, Burke T, Hofer H (2009) Maternal effects on offspring social status in spotted hyenas. Behavioral Ecology 20: 478-483.

Höner OP, Wachter B, East ML, Streich WJ, Wilhelm K, Burke T, Hofer H (2008) Do female hyaenas choose mates based on tenure? Reply to Van Horn et al. Nature 454, E2 (10 July 2008) [doi:10.1038/nature07123].

East ML, Wibbelt G, Lieckfeldt D, Ludwig A, Goller K, Wilhelm K, Schares G, Thierer D, Hofer H (2008). A Hepatozoon species genetically distinct from H. canis infecting spotted hyena in the Serengeti ecosystem, Tanzania. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 44, 45-52.

Höner OP, Wachter B, East ML, Streich WJ, Wilhelm K, Burke T, Hofer H (2007) Female mate choice drives the evolution of male-biased dispersal in a social mammal. Nature 448: 798-801.

Peters G, East ML, Herzel HP, Henschel JR, Mills MGL, Wilhelm K, Hofer H 2004 Spotted hyaena whoops: frequent incidence of vocal instabilities in a mammalian loud call. Bioacoustics 14: 99-109.

East ML, Burke T, Wilhelm K, Greig C, Hofer H 2003 Sexual conflicts in spotted hyenas: male and female mating tactics and their reproductive outcome with respect to age, social status and tenure. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B 270: 1247-1254.

Wilhelm K, Dawson DA, Gentle LK, Greig C, Horsefield G,  Schlötterer C, Burke T, East ML, Hofer H, Tautz D (2003) Characterisation of spotted hyena Crocuta Crocuta microsatellite loci. Molecular Ecology Notes 3: 360-362.


  • Kerstin Wilhelm
  • Institute of Evolutionary Ecology 
  • and Conservation Genomics
  • University of Ulm
  • Albert Einstein Allee 11
  • D 89069 Ulm, Germany
  • Tel. +49 (0)731 50 22673
  • Fax +49 (0)731 50 22683
  • Office: Helmholtzstr. 10/1 (Containerstadt)
  • kerstin.wilhelm ()