Arne Hegemann



My research integrates physiology, ecology and behaviour throughout the annual-cycle in (migratory) animals. In particular, I am interested in how immune function shapes the ecology and behaviour of birds and fish. The immune system is fundamentally important for self-maintenance and promotes survival by reducing the probability of disease-related mortality, but it simultaneously incurs costs in terms of its production, maintenance and activation. These cost-benefit trade-offs make immune function a powerful driver of individual differences in many evolutionary and ecological processes.

One of my main research projects deals with the physiological mechanisms mediating the causes and consequences of partial migration in birds and fish. In further projects, I investigate together with my collaborators the effects of immune function and immune responses on the behaviour and ecology during migration and stopovers. These and related projects also take trade-offs between immune function and other physiological systems (e.g. oxidative stress, telomere dynamics, thermoregulation) into account. Moreover, measurements of immune function are key when we want to unravel the mechanisms underlying carry-over effects between annual-cycle stages, especially between current and future reproduction. My research incorporates these aspects and questions in different study systems using a variety of approaches.

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My main projects

  • Should I stay or should I go? Immune function as a driver of partial migration
  • Immune function as a driver of variation in stopover ecology and behaviour
  • Mechanisms underlying carry-over effects, the trade-off current vs. future reproduction and predation

My background

I am an ornithologist, field-ecologist and interested in the health of animals since early childhood. I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Osnabrück and the University of Bielefeld in Germany. Afterwards, I moved to the University of Groningen in the Netherlands where I obtained my PhD in 2012. During my PhD and a subsequent first Postdoc in the same group, I specialised on links between immunology and ecology. The findings on links between immune function and other behavioural and physiological processes inspired me to extend and deepen my research in this field.

In 2014, I came with a personal Rubicon-PostDoc fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to Lund University. In Lund, I added new specialised lab and tracking methods to my “toolbox“. I investigated relationships between movement ecology and immune function and started several collaborations to explore trade-offs between immune function and other life-history traits. Afterwards, I continued working at Lund University as a researcher in different projects and with different collaborators.

In 2019, I started as an Assistant Professor on a new project entitled “Should I stay or should I go? Immune function as a driver of partial migration”, funded by a Starting Grant from the Swedish Research Council (VR). The strength of my research lies in designing, executing and analysing fine-tuned combinations of field and lab work, correlational and experimental work, and modern tracking technologies. I am very experienced and skilled in measuring innate immune function in wild animals and in studies connecting physiology with ecology.

Recent research outputs

Cas Eikenaar, Sven Hessler & Arne Hegemann, 2020 Feb 5, In : Royal Society Open Science. 7, 2, 192031.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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