Dr. Kamran Safi
Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology
Am Obstberg 1
The interface between theoretical and empirical research with a deep interest in the methodological and statistical aspects of biology is where I am currently mostly working on. I am interested in the relationship between diversity measures and spatial patterns of life history traits and the traces of evolutionary biogeography in current species assemblages. My research includes tight collaborations with the Zoological Society of London (mainly with Dr. Kate E. Jones) where I have been appointed a honoury research fellow. Despite having become more or less a macroecologist I still maintain a strong interest in (bat) behaviour and ecology where I actually did my PhD in. As a behavioural ecologist I am interested in the evolution of sociality in absence of reproduction and the effect of information transfer on foraging efficiency and thus the evolution of social aggregations. Most of the bat related projects are done in collaboration with Dr. Dina Dechmann.
Macroecology and Evolution
My research focuses on macroecology and macroevolutionary processes and on large scale spatial and temporal biological patterns. Currently I am specifically interested in how different measures of biodiversity are related to each other on a global scale and what processes have led to the accumulation of diversity in the past and what enables today the maintenance of it. Beyond a purely academic interest in the relationship between diversity measures I would like to understand what “diversity” means in terms of ecosystem services and functioning and how it translates into community stability.
Behavioural trait evolution
Behaviour, like any other life-history trait is selection relevant and has a heritable component. Therefore behaviour, like any other life history trait, should display spatial and phylogenetic patterning as a response to large scale environmental processes. Investigating how behaviour as well as other life history traits are shaped beyond the barriers of the species’ concept and represent processes of local adaptation, on a global scale, is indispensable to the understanding of animal ecology and evolution.
A very particular behavioural trait is animal movement, specifically, migratory behaviour. A considerable proportion of animal species make enormous movements on a continental to global scale. These movements can be thought of behavioural responses to a fluctuating environment and are per-se adaptive. They also represent an important example of a behavioural trait which leads to shifts and fluctuations of biodiversity and whose causes and consequences are far from being understood on large ecological and evolutionary scales. Understanding which factors shape large scale animal movement will allow us to understand a general and large scale behavioural response, identify the underlying mechanisms determining species richness, and ultimately enable us to understand and predict the dynamics of diversity.
K. Safi & N. Pettorelli (in press) Phylogenetic, spatial and environmental components of extinction risk in carnivores. Global Ecology and Biogeography.
K. Safi & B. M. Siemers (in press) Biased sensory perception links predator diversity to prey size distribution. Evolutionary Ecology.
I. A. Bisson, K. Safi & R. A. Holland (2009) Evidence for repeated independent evolution of migration in the largest family of bats. PlosONE. 4(10): e7504.
J.D. Sachs, J. Baillie, W.J. Sutherland, P.R. Armsworth, N. Ash, P. Bateson, J. Beddington, T. Blackburn, B. Collen, B. Gardiner, K. J. Gaston, H.C.J. Godfray, R. Green, P. Harvey, K. Homewood, B. House, S. Knapp, N. Kumpel, D. W. Macdonald, G.M. Mace, J. Mallett, A. Matthews, R. May, O. Petchey, A. Purvis, D. Raffaelli, D. Roe, K. Safi, C. Toulmin, K. Turner, M. Walpole, R. Watson and K.E. Jones (2009) Biodiversity conservation and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Science. 325: 1502-1503.
K.E. Jones, J. Bielby, M. Cardillo, S.A. Fritz, J. O’Dell, C.D.L. Orme, K. Safi, W. Sechrest, E. H. Boakes, C. Carbone, C. Connolly, M.J. Cutts, J. K. Foster, R. Grenyer, M. Habib, C.A. Plaster, S.A. Price, E.A. Rigby, J. Rist, A. Teacher, O.R.P. Bininda-Emonds, J.L. Gittleman, G.M. Mace & A. Purvis (2009) PanTHERIA: A species-level database of life-history, ecology and geography of extant and recently extinct mammals. Ecology. 90(9): 2648.
D.K.N. Dechmann, S.L. Heucke, L. Giuggioli, K. Safi, C.C. Voigt, M. Wikelski (2009) Experimental evidence for group hunting via eavesdropping in echolocating bats. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B. 276: 2721-2728.
D. K. N. Dechmann and K. Safi (2009) A review of comparative studies of brain size with a special focus on bats. Biological Reviews. 84: 161-172.
K. Safi (2008) Sociality in bats: the males' perspective. Journal of Mammalogy. 89: 1342-1350.
K. Safi & G. Kerth (2007). Comparative analyses suggest that information transfer promoted sociality in male bats in the temperate zone. American Naturalist 170: 465-472.
K. Safi, B. König & G. Kerth (2007) Implications of sex-specific habitat use and social sexual segregation for the conservation of the parti-coloured bat, (Vespertilio murinus, Linnaeus 1758). Biological Conservation. 137: 28-36.
K. Safi, J. Heinzle & K. Reinhold (2006) Species recognition influences female mate preferences in the common European grasshopper (Chorthippus biguttulus Linnaeus, 1758). Ethology, 112: 1225-1230.
D.K.N. Dechmann, K. Safi & M.J. Vonhoff (2006) Matching morphology and diet in the disc-winged bat, Thyroptera tricolor (Chiroptera). Journal of Mammalogy, 87: 1013-1019.
F.C. Saunders, A.G. McElligott, K. Safi & T.J. Hayden (2005) Mating tactics of male feral goats (Capra hircus): risks and benefits. Acta Ethologica, 8: 103-110.
K. Safi, M.A. Seid & D.K.N. Dechmann (2005) Bigger is not always better - when brains get smaller. Biology Letters, 1: 283-286.
K. Safi & D.K.N. Dechmann (2005) Adaptation of brain regions to habitat complexity: a comparative analysis in bats (Chiroptera). Proceedings of the Royal Society London Series B, 272: 179-186.
K. Safi & G. Kerth (2004) A comparative analysis of specialization and extinction risk in temperate-zone bats. Conservation Biology, 18: 1293-1303.
K. Safi & G. Kerth (2003) Secretions of the interaural gland contain information about individuality and colony membership in the Bechstein’s Bat. Animal Behaviour, 65:363-369.
G. Kerth, K. Safi & B. König (2002) Mean colony relatedness is a poor predictor of colony structure and female philopatry in the communally breeding Bechstein’s bat (Myotis bechsteinii). Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 52: 203-210.