Max Planck Research Group Predators and Toxic Prey

Lab group member

We study the chemical and evolutionary ecology of predators and prey.

“The ‘tenacity of life’ so characteristic of the warningly coloured lepidoptera on which [predators] feed, is to some extent also apparent in the vertebrate predators that attack them and appears to indicate a rather widespread phenomenon which is by no means understood.”

Miriam Rothschild, 1972


  1. To reveal patterns of evolution in predator behaviour mediated by prey toxins.
  2. To quantify and relate variation in aposematic defences to individual avian predators and communities thereof.

Project one - consuming cardiac glycosides and the evolution of target-site insensitivity of the transmembrane protein Na+,K+-ATPase.

Project two - relating variation in aposematic defences to avian predator community composition across time and a large geographic scale.
Francesca Protti-Sánchez

Project three - Aposematic defences: toxins, visual signals and oxidative stress.
Cecilia Heyworth and Paola Rubiano Buitrago