Evolutionary Ecology

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Wilfried Gabriel

Prof. Dr. i.R. Wilfried Gabriel



Room: B02.028
Phone: 089/2180-74215

Website: Gabriel

Work group

Evolutionary Ecology


Ecological questions often can be answered only in an evolutionary context, e.g., besides proximate causes the ultimate causes need to be examined or the implications of changing selection pressures on future development have to be estimated.

The research combines theories of ecology and evolution: population dynamics and genetics, quantitative genetics, evolutionarily stable strategies (ESS), "life-history"- and reproductive strategies, norms of reaction and breadth of adaptation, phenotypic plasticity, comparison of evolutionary rates under asexual and sexual reproduction, intraspecific competition (esp. cannibalism), extinction of populations due to stochastic fluctuations and mutational load. Further, the experimental working groups ( Christian Laforsch, Sabine Gießler, Justyna Wolinska, Jonathan Jeschke ) are supported by modelling and theory.

Actual research projects are the evolution of density dependent population regulation and theories to irreversible versus reversible phenotypic plasticity.


Personal Information:

  • Birth: 2 November 1947, Görschnitz (near Bayreuth, Germany)
  • Citizenship: Federal Republic of Germany
  • Marital Status: married, two children


  • 1967 "Abitur" at Theresien-Gymnasium, München (Munich)
  • 1969 "Vordiplom" in mathematics and physics, University of Munich
  • 1974 "Diplom" in physics (second subject: computer sciences), University of Hamburg
  • 1978 PhD in natural sciences (elementary particle physics), University of Hamburg
  • 1993   ”Habilitation” for Zoology at University Basle
    (“Habilitation”-Thesis: Modelling approaches to evolutionary ecology).

Academic Positions:

  • 1974   PhD fellowship by DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron), Hamburg
  • 1976   Research scientist at DESY, Hamburg
  • 1980-95   Research scientist at Max Planck Institute for Limnologie, Plön
  • 1995....     Full Professor for Ecology at the LMU (Ludwig-Maximilians-University) in Munich
  • 1982-1995   Teaching contract at University of Kiel for “population dynamics”
  • 1991-1995   Teaching contract for “Evolutionary Genetics” at the University of Basle
  • 1990-1995   1990-1995 Elected Representative in the Biological-Medical Section of the Max-Planck Society
  • 1990-1994   Member of the Editorial Board of J. EVOL. BIOL.
  • 1993-1997   Member of the Council of the European Society of Evolutionary Biology
  • 1997-2001   Member of the Council of the European Society of Evolutionary Biology
  • 1996-2002   Elected Member of the „Fachbereichsrat“ of the Faculty for Biology
  • at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
  • 2000   Sabbatical Fellow at NCEAS (National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis)
  • 2000-2001   Leader of a working group at NCEAS
  • 2001-2003   Dean of the Faculty of Biology at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich



  • Gabriel W. (1982): Modelling reproductive strategies of Daphnia. - Arch. Hydrobiol. 95: 69 80.
  • Lynch M. and Gabriel W. (1983): Phenotypic evolution and parthenogenesis. - American Naturalist 122: 745 764.
  • Lampert W. and Gabriel W.(1984): Tracer kinetics in Daphnia: an improved two compartment model and experimental test. - Arch. Hydrobiol. 100: 1 20.
  • Gabriel W. and Lampert W. (1985): Can cannibalism be advantageous in cyclopoids? A mathematical model. - Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 22: 3164 3168.
  • Taylor B. E. and Gabriel W. (1985): Reproductive strategies of two similar Daphnia species. - Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 22: 3047 3050.
  • Gabriel W. (1985): Overcoming food limitation by cannibalism : A model study on cyclopoids. - In: W. Lampert (Ed.): Food limitation and the structure of zooplankton communities. - Arch. Hydrobiol. Beih. Ergebn. Limnol. 21: 373 381.
  • Gabriel W. (1985): Simulation komplexer Populationsdynamik. - In: D. P. F. Möller (ed.): Simulationstechnik. Informatik Fachberichte Bd. 109. pp 318 324, Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York Tokyo.
  • Lynch M. and Gabriel W. (1987): Environmental tolerance. - American Naturalist 129: 283 303.
  • Gabriel W. (1987): The use of computer simulation to evaluate the testability of a new fitness concept. - In: D. P. F. Möller (ed.): Systems Analysis of Biological Processes. Advances in Systems Analysis, Vol. 2. pp 82 88. Vieweg, Braunschweig.
  • Lynch M. and Gabriel W. (1987): Evolution of the breadth of biochemical adaptation. - In: P. Calow (Ed.): Evolutionary Physiological Ecology. pp 67 83. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Gabriel W., Taylor B. E., and Kirsch Prokosch S. (1987): Cladoceran birth and death rate estimation: experimental comparisons of egg ratio models. - Freshwater Biology 18: 361 372.
  • Gabriel W. (1988): Quantitative genetic models for parthenogenetic species. - In: G. de Jong (ed.): Population genetics and evolution. pp 73 82. Springer, Heidelberg.
  • Gabriel W. and Wagner G. P. (1988): Parthenogenetic populations can remain stable in spite of high mutation rate and random drift. - Naturwissenschaften 75: 204 205.
  • Gabriel W. and Thomas B. (1988): The influence of food availability, predation risk, and metabolic costs on the evolutionary stability of diel vertical migration in zooplankton. - Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 23: 807-811.
  • Gabriel W. and Thomas B. (1988): Vertical migration of zooplankton as an evolutionarily stable strategy. - American Naturalist 132: 199-216.
  • Gabriel W. and Thomas B. (1988): Ultimate causes of vertical migration in zooplankton: An evaluation by evolutionary game theory. - In: Wolff, Soeder and Drepper (eds.): Ecodynamics, contributions to theoretical ecology. pp 127-134. Springer, Heidelberg.
  • Van den Bosch F., de Roos A. M., and Gabriel W. (1988): Cannibalism as a life boat mechanism. - J. Math. Biol. 26: 619-633.
  • Thomas B. and Gabriel W. (1989): Interaction analysis and stability concept as a means for understanding complex systems. - In: D. P. F. Möller (ed.): System Analysis of Biomedical Processes. Advances in System Analysis, Vol. 5. pp 166-172. Vieweg, Braunschweig.
  • Gabriel W. and Thomas B. (1989): Predictive value of evolutionary game theory for vertical migration in zooplankton. - In: D. P. F. Möller (ed.): System Analysis of Biomedical Processes. Advances in System Analysis, Vol. 5. pp 173-180. Vieweg, Braunschweig.
  • Gabriel W. (1990): Vertikalwanderung von Zooplankton als evolutionär stabile Strategie. - In: B. Streit (Ed.): Evolutionsprozesse im Tierreich. pp 87-106. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel.
  • Wagner G. P. and Gabriel W. (1990): Quantitative variation in finite parthenogenetic populations: What stops Muller's ratchet in the absence of recombination? - Evolution 44: 715-731.
  • Lynch M. and Gabriel W. (1990): Mutation load and survival of small populations. - Evolution 44: 1725-1737.
  • Gabriel W., Bürger R., and Lynch M. (1991): Population extinction by mutational load and demographic stochasticity. - In: A. Seitz and V. Loeschcke (Eds.): Species Conservation: a Population Biological Approach. pp 49-59. Birkhäuser, Basel.
  • Gabriel W. and van den Bosch F. (1991): Consequences of intraspecific predation: A stage structured population model approach. - In: D. P .F. Möller and O. Richter (Eds.), Analyse dynamischer Systeme in Medizin, Biologie und Ökologie. Informatik-Fachberichte 275, pp 177-184, Springer Berlin.
  • Gabriel W. and Taylor B. (1991): Optimal resource allocation in cladocerans. - Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 24: 2784-2787.
  • van den Bosch F. and Gabriel W. (1991): The impact of cannibalism on the population dynamics of cyclopoid copepods. - Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 24: 2848-2850.
  • Lynch M., Gabriel W., and Wood A. M. (1991): Adaptive and demographic responses of plankton populations to environmental change. - Limnol. Oceanogr. 36: 1301-1312.
  • Gabriel W. and Lynch M. (1992): The selective advantage of reaction norms for environmental tolerance. - J. evol. Biol. 5: 41-59.
  • Gabriel W. and Bürger R. (1992): Survival of small populations under demographic stochasticity. - Theor. Pop. Biol. 41: 44-71.
  • Taylor B. E. and Gabriel W. (1992): To grow or not to grow: optimal resource allocation for Daphnia. - American Naturalist 139: 248-266.
  • Gabriel W. and Bürger R. (1992): Aussterberisiko kleiner Populationen: Markov-Ketten und Monte-Carlo-Simulation als komplementäre Ansätze. - In: D.P.F. Möller and O. Richter (Eds.), Fortschritte der Simulation in Medizin, Biologie und Ökologie. Informatik-Bericht 92/6, pp 118-120, TU Clausthal.
  • Lampert W., Gabriel W., and Rothhaupt K.-O. (1992): Ecophysiological models: A tool for understanding interactions in freshwater communities? - Verh. Dtsch. Zool. Ges. 85.2: 95-110.
  • Gabriel W. (1993): Models on diel vertical migration. - In: J. Ringelberg (Ed.): Diel Vertical Migration of Zooplankton. - Arch. Hydrobiol. Beih. Ergebn. Limnol. 39: 123-136.
  • Gabriel W. (1993): Technologically modified genes in natural populations: some sceptical remarks on risk assessment from the view of population genetics. - In: K. Wöhrmann and J. Tomiuk (eds.), Transgenic organisms. Risk assessment of deliberate release. pp 109-116. Birkhäuser, Basel.
  • Gabriel W. (1993): Modelling approaches to evolutionary ecology. - Habilitation,Universität Basel.
  • Taylor B. and Gabriel W. (1993): Optimal adult growth of Daphnia in a seasonal environment. - Functional Ecology 7: 513-521.
  • Gabriel W., Lynch M., and Bürger R. (1993): Muller's ratchet and mutational meltdowns. - Evolution 47:1744-1757. (issued June 1994)
  • Lynch M., Bürger R., Butcher D., and Gabriel W. (1993): The mutational meltdown in asexual populations. - Journal of Heredity 84: 339-344.
  • van den Bosch F. and Gabriel W. (1994): Growth and development in copepods. - Limnology and Oceanography 39(7): 1528-1542.
  • Gabriel W. and Bürger R. (1994): "Extinction risk by mutational meltdown: synergistic effects between population regulation and genetic drift." In: V. Loeschcke, J. Tomuik and S.K. Jain (Eds.) "Conservation Genetics", pp 69-84, Birkhäuser, Basel.
  • Matveev V. and Gabriel W. (1994): Competetive exclusion in Cladocera through elevated mortality of adults. - J. Plankton Res. 16: 1084-1094.
  • Gabriel W. (1994): "Mutational Meltdown": Aussterberisiko durch Anhäufung schädlicher Mutationen. - Z. Ökologie und Naturschutz 3: 161-165.
  • Gabriel W. (1996): Obituary (Jürgen Jacobs). - J. evol. Biol. 9:1-4.
  • van den Bosch F. and Gabriel W. (1997): Cannibalism in an age-structured predator-prey system. - Bulletin of Mathematical Biology. 59: 551-567
  • Gabriel W. (1998): Drift. - In: P. Calow (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Ecology and Environmental Management. p. 204. Blackwell, Oxford.
  • Gabriel W. (1998): Environmental tolerance. - In: P. Calow (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Ecology and Environmental Management. pp. 243-244. Blackwell, Oxford.
  • Boriss H. and Gabriel W. (1998): Vertical migration in Daphnia: the role of phenotypic plasticity in the migration pattern for competing clones of species. Oikos 83: 129-138.
  • Gabriel W. (1999): Evolution of reversible plastic responses: inducible defenses and environmental tolerance. – pp 286-305. In: R. Tollrian and C.D. Harvell (Eds.) The Ecology and Evolution of Inducible Defenses. Princeton University Press.
  • Nürnberger B. and Gabriel W. (1999): Continued hope for a general explanation of sex. J. evol. Biol. 12: 1040-1042.
  • Gabriel W. and Bürger R. (2000): Fixation of clonal lineages under Muller´s ratchet. - Evolution 54(4): 1116-1125.
  • Baake, E. and Gabriel. W. (2000): Biological evolution through mutation, selection and drift: an introductory review. Ann. Rev. Comp. Phys. VII (2000): 203-264
  • Kopp M., Jeschke J., and Gabriel W. (2001): Exact compensation of stream drift as an evolutionary stable strategy. Oikos 92: 522-530.
  • Gabriel, W. and Férrière, R. (2004): From individual interactions to population viability. Pages 19-40 in: R. Ferrière et al.(editors) Evolutionary Conservation Biology. Oxford University Press.
  • Gabriel, W. (2005): How stress selects for reversible phenotypic plasticity. - J.evol.Biol. 18: 873-883.
  • Gabriel W., Luttbeg B., Sih, A. and Tollrian R. (2005): Environmental tolerance, heterogeneity and the evolution of reversible plastic responses. American Naturalist 166: 339:353.
  • Kopp M. and Gabriel W (2006): The dynamic effect of an inducible defense in the Nicholson-Bailey model. Theor. Pop. Biol. 70: 43-55
  • Gabriel W., (2006): Selective advantage and reversible phenotypic plasticity. Archiv für Hydrobiologie 167: 1-20.
  • Gabriel W. (2008): "Predator-Prey Dynamics with Type-Two Functional Response" from The Wolfram Demonstrations Project (reviewed software). Wolfram Research Mathematica, http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/PredatorPreyDynamicsWith TypeTwoFunctionalResponse/