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Rita Fortuna

Rita Fortuna

PhD Student

PhD Student
Member type
Former Members
CIBIO-InBIO, Universidade do Porto, Campus de Vairão, Rua Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal

I became a Master in Biodiversity, Genetics and Evolution in 2016 and completed my graduation in Biology in 2014, both in University of Porto.


My main areas of research are animal behaviour and evolutionary ecology and in my master thesis I explored cooperative breeding strategies among birds. My study system was a facultative cooperative breeding species: the sociable weaver (Philetairus socius), in which I investigated group feeding responses to begging behaviour and whether females could use maternal effects to indirectly manipulate other individuals to provide offspring care. I have monitored the breeding season of several sociable weaver colonies in Kimberley, South Africa, and performed video and acoustic analyses. We were able to understand the dissimilarities in the amount of care provided by birds with different status, paying close attention to the differences between male and female breeders and among the non-breeding cooperative individuals.


I am currently developing my PhD investigation in the sociable weavers system, aiming to further explore prenatal maternal effects and their fitness consequences. Specifically, I am using a combination of long-term and experimental data to assess whether females adjust their investment in eggs according to their breeding environment (number of helpers, environmental conditions and/or predation risk) and how these prenatal maternal effects may influence offspring phenotype and the investment of the other carers.

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