Elena Berg, Postdoc



Dept of Animal Ecology
Evolutionary Biology Centre (EBC)
Uppsala University
Norbyvägen 18 D
SE-752 36 Uppsala

+46 18 471 6484

Research background & interests

I am a broadly trained evolutionary biologist interested in multidisciplinary questions about how behavior, morphology, life history, and genetics vary across different environments and spatial scales. My Ph.D. research focused on the evolution of cooperative breeding behavior in the white-throated magpie-jay (Calocitta formosa), a highly gregarious Central American bird. As a postdoc, I have explored a diversity of topics, including the evolution of eggshell speckling and coloration in birds, the population genetic structure of both migratory and non-migratory North American songbirds, and the phylogenetic history of cooperative breeding in New World jays.

As a postdoc in Dr. Alexei Maklakov’s lab, I have shifted my focus from birds to beetles and nematodes. Using the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus as a model organism, I am conducting artificial selection experiments and fitness assays to investigate sex differences in ageing and the tradeoffs between reproductive investment and lifespan. In addition, together with Ph.D. student Hwei-yen Chen, I will be investigating the role of environmental stress in the evolution of life history in nematodes.

For a copy of my full CV and more information on my doctoral and early postdoctoral research, please refer to my webpage at UCLA’s Center for Tropical Research

Education and recent positions

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Animal Ecology, Department of Ecology & Evolution, Uppsala University. Sept 2010 – Present.

Program Coordinator, Graduate Program in Evolution, Ecology & Systematics (EES), Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Germany. August 2009 – August 2010.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Biology, Portland State University, Portland, OR. February 2008 – May 2009.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University. October 2006 – October 2007.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for Tropical Research, University of California, Los Angeles. October 2004 – October 2006, September – December 2008.

Ph.D., Animal Behavior, University of California, Davis. June 2004.

Master of Philosophy, Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, England, September 1996.

Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology and College Scholar, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. May 1995.



13. Berg, E. C. and Maklakov, A. A. 2012. Sexes suffer from suboptimal lifespan because of genetic conflict in a seed beetle. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279(1745): 4296-4302. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1345

12. Berg, E. C., Aldredge, R. A., Peterson, A. T., and McCormack, J. E. 2012. New phylogenetic information suggests both an increase and at least one loss of cooperative breeding during the evolutionary history of Aphelocoma jays. Evolutionary Ecology 26(1): 43-54. DOI: 10.1007/s10682-011-9492-8

11. McCormack, J. M. and E. C. Berg. 2010. Small-scale differentiation in egg colour along an elevation gradient in Mexican jays. The Auk 127(1): 35-43.

10. Berg, E. C., J. M. Eadie, T. A. Langen, and A. F. Russell. 2009. Reverse sex-biased philopatry in a cooperative bird: genetic consequences and a social cause. Molecular Ecology 18: 3486-3499.

9. Berg, E. C., J. E. McCormack, and T. B. Smith. 2009. Test of an adaptive hypothesis for egg speckling along an elevational gradient in a population of Mexican jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina). Journal of Avian Biology 40(4): 448-452.

8. Ellis, J. M. S., T. A. Langen, and E. C. Berg. 2009. Signaling for food and sex? Begging by reproductive female white-throated magpie-jays. Animal Behaviour 78: 615-623.

7. Roy, C., J. M. Eadie, E. M. Schauber, N. S. Odell, E. C. Berg, and T. Moore. 2009. Public information and conspecific nest parasitism in wood ducks: does nest density influence quality of information? Animal Behaviour 77(6): 1367-1373.

6. Berg, E. C. and D. A. Williams. 2007. Studying individual interactions and direct fitness benefits in wild birds: history and practice. Behavioural Processes 76(2): 163-166.

5. Berg, E. C. 2005. Parentage and reproductive success in the white-throated magpie-jay (Calocitta formosa), a cooperative breeder with female helpers. Animal Behaviour 70: 375-385.

4. Berg, E. C. 2004. A test of sex ratio biasing in the white-throated magpie-jay, a cooperative breeder with female helpers. The Condor 106: 299-308.

3. Williams, D. A., E. C. Berg, A. M. Hale, and C. R. Hughes. 2004. Characterization of microsatellites for parentage studies of white-throated magpie-jays (Calocitta formosa) and brown jays (Cyanocorax morio). Molecular Ecology Notes 4(3): 509-511.

2. Wright, J., E. Berg, S. R. DeKort, V. Khazin, and A. A. Maklakov. 2001. Safe selfish sentinels in a cooperative bird. Journal of Animal Ecology 70(6): 1070-1079.

1. Wright, J., E. Berg, S. R. DeKort, V. Khazin, and A. A. Maklakov. 2001. Cooperative sentinel behaviour in the Arabian babbler. Animal Behaviour 62(5): 973-979.

Böcker och artiklar i böcker/Books and articles in books

Berg, E. C. and R. W. Van Buskirk. 2010. Intraspecific Behavior. In: The Encyclopedia of Applied Animal Behaviour & Welfare (D. Mills, ed.). CAB International Publishing: Wallingford, UK.