Behavioural ecology of movements


Dispersal – i.e. movements of organisms between spatial units of habitat that may affect gene flow like displacements between local populations – is widely recognized to be a key phenomenon to ecology, evolution and conservation. Although we have some incomplete knowledge about patterns of dispersal, there is still much to learn about the mechanisms behind these patterns.  We focus in particular on behavioural aspects of the three-stage-process of dispersal (i.e., emigration, transfer across a landscape, immigration and settlement). Do dispersal movements differ behaviorally from routine movements? What is the functional significance of perceptual range to dispersal movements? To what extent is mobility traded-off against other life history traits (like fecundity)? Etc. We are also strongly interested in functional morphological, physiological and genetic aspects associated with variation in mobility in general, and with dispersal in particular. At the landscape level, we wonder how structural connectivity translates into functional connectivity. We particularly (but not exclusively) use the speckled wood butterfly Pararge aegeria as a study model. We are also interested in the proximate mechanisms of butterfly flight (e.g. functional morphology and some basic biomechanics).  

On dispersal issues we collaborate in particular with Michel Baguette (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris) and Nicolas Schtickzelle (also UCL). Collaboration covers both conceptual issues and case studies (mainly on butterflies, e.g. Bog fritillary Proclossiana eunomia).