If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research interests

Mating systems and parental behaviour

Family life is rife with conflicts. Not only the interests of parents and their offspring may be different, but the male and the female parents may also disagree how much care each should provide for their offspring.

My group investigates bird species to understand how conflict and cooperation influences family lives. We study birds in their natural populations, and build mathematical models to understand their behaviour. In plovers the sexual conflict is expressed when the chicks hatch: in some families the female, whereas in others the male, abandons the brood. We have discovered that the parents carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of this tug-of-war, and now we are investigating whether their behaviour has any genetic basis.

Penduline tits have one of the most exciting mating systems: both parents start looking for a new mate before they actually complete their clutch. What determines whether the male or the female cares for the chicks? How do parents solve their conflict? In this project we are aiming to understand some of the basic components of sexual conflict over mating & care.

Breeding systems in shorebirds

Shorebirds have exceptionally diverse breeding systems. Some shorebirds are polygamous, whether others are monogamous, or polyandrous. Why do shorebirds exhibit this unusual diversity? How did this diversity evolve? To answer these questions my group is using phylogenetic analyses.

Conservation of wetland birds

Many waterbird populations are declining. We carry out fieldwork in some of the most exciting places on the planet, and use phylogenetic methods to identify what makes a species decline. If you live in a country where endangered waterbirds live, we like to hear from you.


I have ongoing collaborations with several research institutions that include University of Groningen, Bristol University and Debrecen University.

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

wader Earth & Environmental Sciences
Charadrius alexandrinus Agriculture & Biology
parental care Earth & Environmental Sciences
Charadriidae Agriculture & Biology
nests Agriculture & Biology
reproductive strategy Earth & Environmental Sciences
dimorphism Agriculture & Biology
sexual selection Earth & Environmental Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2006 2022

Research Output 2000 2018

Demographic causes of adult sex ratio variation and their consequences for parental cooperation

Eberhart-Phillips, L. J., Küpper, C., Carmona-Isunza, M. C., Vincze, O., Zefania, S., Cruz-López, M., Kosztolányi, A., Miller, T. E. X., Barta, Z., Cuthill, I. C., Burke, T., Székely, T., Hoffman, J. I. & Krüger, O. 25 Apr 2018 In : Nature Communications. 9, 1, 1651

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Sex Ratio
Social Behavior

Social interactions predict genetic diversification: An experimental manipulation in shorebirds

Cunningham, C., Parra, J. E., Coals, L., Beltrán, M., Zefania, S. & Székely, T. 9 May 2018 In : Behavioral Ecology. 29, 3, p. 609-618 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
gene flow
social behavior
genetic differentiation
4 Citations

Successful conservation of global waterbird populations depends on effective governance

Amano, T., Székely, T., Sandel, B., Nagy, S., Mundkur, T., Langendoen, T., Blanco, D., Soykan, C. U. & Sutherland, W. J. 11 Jan 2018 In : Nature. 553, 7687, p. 199-202 4 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

Open Access
protected area
ecosystem service
10 Citations

Adult sex ratio and operational sex ratio exhibit different temporal dynamics in the wild

Carmona-Isunza, M. C., Ancona, S., Székely, T., Ramallo-González, A. P., Cruz-López, M., Serrano-Meneses, M. A. & Küpper, C. 1 Apr 2017 In : Behavioral Ecology. 28, 2, p. 523-532 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

sex ratio
reproductive strategy
breeding population
sexual selection
breeding season
2 Citations

Adult sex ratios and reproductive strategies: A critical re-examination of sex differences in human and animal societies

Schacht, R., Kramer, K. L., Székely, T. & Kappeler, P. M. 19 Sep 2017 In : Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 372, 1729, 20160309

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

Sex Ratio
gender differences
Sex Characteristics
reproductive strategy
sex ratio