Manuela Ferrari

NERC Postdoctoral Research Associate

Research interests

My main research area is the evolution of social and reproductive behaviours in animals, especially mammals.  I’m particularly interested in the interplay between conflict and cooperation, both between and within the sexes.

My current project focuses on the trade-off between intrasexual competition and parental care and on how it might shape behavioural and reproductive patterns both in male and female house mice (Mus musculus domesticus). We aim to combine behavioural, physiological and transcriptomic data to look both at proximate and ultimate causes to further our understanding of the observed behavioural variation.

During my PhD and previous postdocs, I studied communal nursing in female house mice, trying to identify the costs and benefits of the behaviour and how it is maintained in wild populations.

Education and career

BSc Biology, University of Zurich (2007 - 2010)

MSc Animal Behaviour, University of Zurich (2010 - 2012)

PhD in Evolutionary Biology, University of Zurich (2012 - 2016)

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Zurich (2017 - 2018)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Florida (2018 - 2019)

Research Associate, University of Zurich (2019)

NERC Research Associate, University of Liverpool (2020 - 2023)



Ferrari M., Lindholm A. K., Ozgul A., Oli M. K. & König B. (2022). Cooperation by necessity: condition-and density-dependent reproductive tactics of female house mice. Communications Biology 5 (348), 1-10.

Ferrari M., Lindholm A. K. & König B. (2019). Fitness consequences of female alternative reproductive tactics. The American Naturalist 193(1), 106–124.

Bauerfeind S. S., Sorensen J. G., Loeschke V., Berger D., Broder E. D., Geiger M., Ferrari M. & Blancken- horn W. (2018). Geographic variation in responses of European yellow dung flies to thermal stress. Journal of Thermal Biology 73, 41–49.

Ferrari M. & König B. (2017). No evidence for punishment in communally nursing female house mice (Mus musculus domesticus). Plos One 12(6), e0179683.

Ferrari M., Lindholm A. K. & König B. (2016). A reduced propensity to cooperate under enhanced exploitation risk in a social mammal. Proc. R. Soc. B 283(1830), 20160068.

Ferrari M., Lindholm A. K. & König B. (2015). The risk of exploitation during communal nursing in house mice, Mus musculus domesticus. Animal Behaviour 110, 133-143.

Auclair Y, König B., Ferrari M., Perony N. & Lindholm A. K. (2014). Nest attendance of lactating females in a wild house mouse population: benefits associated with communal nesting. Animal Behaviour 92, 143–149.

Ferrari M., Lindholm A. K. & König B. (2014). A genetic tool to manipulate litter size. Frontiers in Zoology 11, article 18.

Van Buskirk J., Ferrari M., Kueng D., Näpflin K. & Ritter N. (2011). Prey risk assessment depends on conspecific density. Oikos 120, 1235–1239.


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