• Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
  • Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
  • Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
  • Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Rita Covas
 
Position: Principal Researcher
Member Type: Researchers
Degree: PhD
Email: rita.covas@cibio.up.pt
Address: CIBIO-InBIO, Universidade do Porto, Campus de Vairão, Rua Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal
Groups: BE

My research interests are in behavioural and evolutionary ecology. I am broadly interested in the causes and consequences of variation in life-history strategies. My current research explores:

 

1) the relationship between life-history patterns and the evolution of cooperation and mating strategies in birds;

 

2) life history strategies, ornamentation and morphological changes in island birds.

 

 

The main ongoing projects are:

 

1) Cooperative breeding and population dynamics in the sociable weaver Philetairus socius.
This is a long-term study into the evolution of cooperation and population dynamics in this species. The main topics that we are currently investigating involve cryptic helper effects, maternal investment, the role of dominance in cooperation, sibling competition and dispersal patterns.
This work is conducted in collaboration with several people, in particular Claire Doutrelant (CEFE-CNRS France), Res Altwegg (SANBI, South Africa), René van Dijk and Ben Hatchwell (University of Sheffield, UK) and PhD students Matthieu Paquet (CEFE-CNRS, France) and Margaux Rat (Percy FitzPatrick Institute, UCT, South Africa).

 

2) The evolution of family living in birds.
This project aims to establish why kin-based sociality and cooperation have evolved in some species and not in others. Together with Michael Griesser (University of Bern, Switzerland) we are investigating the link between life-history, ecological factors and family living in birds.

 

3) Patterns and processes of adaptation in island birds.
After colonising an island, species are believed to acquire a series of adaptations loosely called ‘insularity syndrome’. However, systematic tests of these patterns are missing and the factors underlying island evolution are poorly understood. We are conducting a systematic study of patterns and processes of evolution on islands birds worldwide regarding reproductive traits, morphology, sexual selection and immunity.
This study is based on museum collections and field data from several African islands. For this I collaborate with Claire Doutrelant, Arnaud Gregoire, Pierre-André Crochet (CEFE-CNRS, France) and Martim Melo (CIBIO-InBIO).

 

4) Insularity, parasites and immunity.
Another project on islands investigates the effects of insularity on parasites and immune response in birds from the Gulf of Guinea islands and nearby mainland (West Africa). This is done in collaboration with Martim Melo, Claire Doutrelant, Elisa Lobato (CIBIO-InBIO), Jon Beadell and Rob Fleischer (Smithsonian Institute).

Our research is mainly funded by the Portuguese Science Foundation (FCT) and the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, where I am a research associate. In addition, I received grants from the European Union (Marie Curie Fellowship and Program Synthesys) and from the American Museum of Natural History.

 

For more information about our projects or study or work opportunities please contact me by e-mail.