Pamminger, Tobias

Tobias Pamminger                                
Scientific Assistant

Curriculum Vitae


2011 – present PhD student at JGU Mainz

2009 – 2011 PhD student at LMU Munich

 2002 – 2008 Zoology (Evolutionary biology) at the University of Vienna

2001 – 2002 Civil Service

2000 – 2001 Graduation School (Externistenmatura in the AHS Mariannum) 1988 – 2000 Private School in Vienna


Studies abroad

2005 – 2006 Erasmus year at University Bergen (NOR)

1998 – 1999 Senior year in High School, Grass Valley CA (USA)


Professional experiences/field trips

2009-2011 Field work in the USA (NY, OH, WI and WV) six - twelve weeks each year (Mapping, Field manipulations etc.)

2009-2010 Member of the EES (Evolution, Ecology and Systematics) Graduate programm. LMU Munich.

2009 Field work in Sommerhausen (Germany) one week

2007/2008 Hohe Tauern/AUSTRIA National Park “Hohe Tauern” (2 weeks in total) Pollination and foraging strategies on Aconitum napellus.

2007 Fethiye/Turkey (5 week) Sea Turtle Project (


Summer school

2009 Host-Parasite coevolution (Frauen Chiemsee)


Graduate Meeting

2009 DZG PhD Meeting 2010 DZG Graduiertenkolleg behavioral ecology


Poster presentations

2010 Poster presentation At the international IUSSI (Copenhagen) Title: ”Increased host aggression as an induced defense against slavemaking ants”.

2008 Poster presentation at the 2nd International Conference on Invertebrate Vision Title: “Adaptation of the visual system to different spectral light qualities in terrestrial habitats”.


Talks scientific

2011 Talk at the 2ed Central European Meeting of the IUSSI. Title: ”Parasites, aggression and why it matters”

2010 Graduate college behavioural ecology: „Science and relationships a possibility?”


Talks public

2011 Talk at the science symposium of the Huyck Preserve (USA NY) Title: “Parasites, aggression and why it matters (light version)”


Soft skills

2010 An introduction to R

2010 Basic statistics in R

2010 Scientific writing course

2010 Time management course

2009 Managing you PhD



2011 Kutter – Prize (Best talk 2011) at the 2ed Central European Meeting 2011 of the IUSSI Title: Aggression, parasites and why it matters.



2011 Huyck preserve research grand: “Evolution of anti-parasite defences in temnothorax ants.” together with A. Modlmeier.

2010 Huyck preserve research grand: “Influence of density and social parasites on aggression” together with A. Modlmeier.

2010 EES travel grand to the international IUSSI (Copenhagen) 2009 Huyck preserve research grand: “Host-parasite interactions in slavemaking ants and their slaves” together with S. Pohl.


Research Interests

Parasitism is the most common lifestyle on earth and most organisms are effected by it. Parasitism is a fascinating and exceptionally successful life history strategy with often severe impact on the fitness of its host species. As a result many host species have developed defense mechanisms to limit the costs of parasitism. These traits, their evolution and potential tradeoffs involved in such defense are the main focus of my research.

Video Temnothorax


PhD project

In my current research project I focus on the impact of parasites on their hosts behavior, physiology and population genetics. I have chosen Protomognathus americanus as the study system. P. americanus is an obligate social parasitic ant, parasitizing three species of the genus Temnothorax. These parasites lack the essential abilities to found and maintain a colony on their own, and thus rely on allospecific workers to raise their young and maintain their colony. P. americanus replenishes its slave worker force during regular and destructive raids. During these raiding events P. americanus steals the brood of neighboring host colonies often leads to the destruction of the attacked colony.

During my PhD I investigate different aspects of host defense of the main host species T. longispinosus. In particular I study the evolution and maintenance of a post enslavement defense trait termed “slave rebellion”. This particular trait of enslaved host workers results in low parasite survival due to killing and neglect of parasitic brood by host workers. It has been hypothized that enslaved host worker could not develop such behavior defense mechanisms as they do not reproduce in the field. We investigate if a kin selection could present a possible solution for this problem.


Konrad, M., Pamminger, T, Foitzik S. Two pathways ensuring social harmony. Naturwissenschaften, in press.

amminger, T, Modlmeier, A.P.*, Suette S., Foitzik S. Raiders from the sky: slavemaker founding queens select for aggressive host colonies. Biology Letters, in press.

Pamminger, T., Leingärtner A., Achenbach A., Kleeberg I., Pennings P.S., Foitzik S. Geographic distribution of the anti-parasite trait “slave rebellion. Evolutionary Ecology, in press.

Scharf I, Pamminger T, Foitzik S S, 2011. Differential response of ant colonies to intruders: attack strategies correlate with potential threat. Ethology Volume: 117 Issue: 8 Pages: 731-739

Pamminger T, Scharf I, Pennings PS, Foitzik S, 2011. Increased host aggression as an induced defense against slave-making ants. Behavioral Ecology, advance access, doi:10.1093/beheco/arq191