Jannik Beninde

Research Project A3: Genomics of local adaptation and hybridization in Daphnia in response to the trophic status of Lake Constance


Ever since I started birding at the beginning of my studies in Tübingen, I am very fascinated with biodiversity and its conservation. Understanding what factors shape the geographical distributions and adapatability of species is necessary to properly protect them against the coming climate change.

Working on the phylogeography of the common toad (Bufo bufo) for my masters I found out that the distribution of genetic lineages is largely dependent on the location of refugia but less so on traits of the individuals. This made me realize that distributions and also other aspects relevant to conservation nowadays are often much more shaped by past events than by current events.

​For my Ph.D. I am working on the role of introgression and hybridisation on the evolution in the Daphnia longispina - complex. 
Daphnids feed on algae and bacteria, and thereby are important members of aquatic ecosystem as they control the nutrient flow between trophic levels. 
Lake Constance has undergone strong eutrophication from the 1950s to 1970s, which strongely changed the abiotic factors and also lead to the invasion of Cyanobacteria but also an additional Daphnia species. The invading species (D. galeata) is more adapted to the eutrophic conditions and thereby outcompeted the local D. longispina.
Hybridisation is common between these species and this could have caused adaptive genes to introgress from D. galeata to D. longispina. Nowadays conditions in Lake Constance are again similar to before the euthrophication.
I want to investigate what influence hybridisation has had on the genetic make-up of the Daphnid community and how this influencs ecosystem functioning in the lake.
Using resting eggs and whole-genome sequencing, I hope to follow the path of alleles to identify how adaptive alleles differ between the species.


  • 05/2017 – present   Ph.D. Student at the University of Konstanz, Germany (Supervisor: Axel Meyer)
  • 06/2016 – 04/2017 Research assistant working on life history traits of salmonids at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 10/2012 – 07/2015 Master of Sciences in Biology (Major in Ecology and Evolution) at the University of Tübingen,  Germany
    • Master thesis on genetic diversity and phylogeography of the common toad (Bufo bufo) under Henri Thomassen
  • 10/2009 – 09/2012 Bachelor of Sciences in Biology at the University of Tübingen, Germany​
    • ​Bachelor thesis on the evolution of polygamy in the common goby (Pomatoschistus microps) under Katja Heubel​
    • 09/2011 – 04/2012 Student exchange to Mount Allison University, Canada

Further Qualifications / Training

  • 01/2016 – 04/2016 Self-organised study trip on the biodiversity and nature conservation in Southeast Asia (Indonesia & Malaysia)
  • 10/2015 – 12/2015 Training as Marine and Coastal Guide with FGASA (Field Guide Association of Southern Africa) at Bhejane 
    Nature Training, Hluhluwe, South Africa
  • 01/2013 – 04/2013 Training as Field Guide with FGASA at Antares Nature Training, Phalaborwa, South Africa

Awards and Grants

  • 04/2015 Travel grant of the Reinhold-und-Maria-Teufel-Stiftung, Tuttlingen (1000 €)

Conference Posters

  • 09/2017 Cladocera XI: Whole genome sequencing to study evolution and speciation within the Daphnia longispina - complex
  • 01/2017 8th Biennial Conference of the International Biogeography Society: The biogeography of the common toad (Bufo bufo)

Society Memberships

  • NABU (German BirdLife Partner), Germany
  • Sharklife Conservation Group, South Africa