AG Steinfartz - Molekulare Ökologie

Dr. Sebastian Steinfartz

TU Braunschweig
Zoologisches Institut

Molekulare Ökologie und Verhalten

Mendelsohnstraße 4

38106 Braunschweig

Tel:  +49 531 3912393
Fax: +49 531 3918198


Molecular Ecology

topics: Ecology – Evolution – Conservation Biology


Molecular Ecology is an interdisciplinary research field in which different kinds of molecular markers and approaches are used to address questions in modern ecology, evolution, behaviour and conservation biology. Molecular ecology is strongly influenced by concepts of population biology as well as systematic and evolutionary genetics.

The research in our group focuses on organismic biology (zoology) and uses amphibians and reptiles as study organisms. We are applying a broad range of methodological approaches, ranging from the development of molecular markers to the application of cutting edge genomic approaches but also behavioural and ecological experiments. We are mainly interested in how organisms adapt to different and changing environmental conditions and how this can influence population differentiation and speciation. In this context, we are studying ecological and behavioural adaptations. Other important fields of research include conservation biology and the study of emerging infectious diseases in amphibians.

Currently, the main study organisms in our group are fire salamanders and Galápagos marine iguanas. For the fire salamander we have been able to develop over the last years a promising system to study processes and mechanisms of ecological speciation under natural conditions. Marine iguanas on the Galápagos islands offer a unique system to study processes of local adaptation and speciation in the worlds’ only sea-going lizard.

Selected publications

MacLeod A, Rodríguez A, Vences M, Orozco-terWengel P, García C, Trillmich F, Gabriele Gentile G, Caccone A, Quezada G, Steinfartz S 2015. Hybridization masks speciation in the evolutionary history of the Galápagos marine iguana. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Caspers B, Krause ET, Hendrix R, Kopp M, Rupp O, Rosentreter K, Steinfartz S 2014. The more the better – polyandry and genetic similarity are positively linked to reproductive success in a natural population of terrestrial salamanders (Salamandra salamandra). Molecular Ecology.

Czypionka T, Krugman T, Altmüller J, Blaustein L, Steinfartz S, Templeton AR, Nolte AW 2015. Ecological transcriptomics – a non-lethal sampling approach for endangered fire salamanders. Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

Ristau K, Steinfartz S, Traunspurger W 2013. First evidence of cryptic species diversity and significant population structure in a widespread freshwater nematode morphospecies (Tobrilus gracilis). Molecular Ecology.