Elena Berg

Assistant Professor, Co-Director of the Environmental Science Laboratory

  • Department: Computer Science Math and Environmental Science
  • Office: 
    C-202
  • Office Hours: 
    by appointment

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Professor Berg joined the Department of Computer Science, Math & Science at the American University of Paris in January of 2014. She is a broadly trained evolutionary biologist interested in multidisciplinary questions about how behavior, morphology, life history, and genetics vary across different environments and spatial scales. After receiving her Master’s degree in Biological Anthropology from Cambridge University, Berg went on to pursue a PhD in Animal Behavior. Her doctoral research at the University of California at Davis focused on the evolution of cooperative breeding behavior in the white-throated magpie-jay, a highly gregarious Central American bird. As a postdoc at UCLA, Portland State University, Harvard University, and Uppsala University in Sweden, she explored a diversity of topics, including the evolution of eggshell speckling and coloration in birds, the population genetic structure of both migratory and non-migratory North American songbirds, the phylogenetic history of cooperative breeding in New World jays, and, most recently, sexual conflict and aging in seed beetles. Between postdocs, Berg also spent a year coordinating the graduate program for Evolution, Ecology and Systematics at the University of Munich. As a professor at AUP, she is continuing her research on the behavior and life history of seed beetles. She and an undergraduate student are currently carrying out an experiment investigating the influence of genetic relatedness on cooperative and competitive behaviors among males. In addition, Berg and AUP colleague Professor Claudio Piani are setting up a long-term experiment that will investigate the adaptive capacity of seed beetles under projected changes in climate.



Education/Degrees

  • PhD in animal behavior, University of California at Davis, USA
  • MPhil in biological anthropology, Cambridge University, England
  • BA in anthropology, Cornell University, USA

Publications

  • T. A. Langen and E. C. Berg.What determines the timing and duration of the nesting season for a tropical dry forest bird, the White-throated Magpie-Jay Calocitta formosa? In press. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology.
  • Lind, M. I.*, E. C. Berg*, G. Alavioon, and A. A. Maklakov.2015. Evolution of differential maternalage effects on male and female offspring development andlongevity. Functional Ecology 29: 104-110. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12308*Joint first authorship
  • Berger, D.*, E. C. Berg*, W. Widegren, G. Arnqvist, and A.A. Maklakov. 2014. Multivariateintralocus sexual conflict in seed beetles. Evolution 68: 3457-3569. doi: 10.1111/evo.12528*Joint first authorship
  • Berg, E. C. and A. A. Maklakov. 2012. "Sexes suffer from suboptimal lifespan because of genetic conflict in a seed beetle". Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279(1745): 4296-4302.
  • Berg, E. C., R. A. Aldredge, A. T. Peterson, and J. E. McCormack. 2012. "New phylogenetic information suggests both an increase and at least one loss of cooperative breeding during the evolutionary history of Aphelocoma jays". Evolutionary Ecology 26: 43-54.
  • McCormack, J. E. and E. C. Berg. 2010. "Small-scale differentiation in egg colour along an elevation gradient in Mexican jays". The Auk 127(1): 35-43.
  • Berg, E. C. and R. W. Van Buskirk. 2010 (invited submission). Intraspecific Behavior. In: The Encyclopedia of Applied Animal Behaviour & Welfare (D. Mills, ed.). CAB International Publishing: Wallingford, UK.
  • Berg, E. C., J. M. Eadie, T. A. Langen, and A. F. Russell. 2009. "Reverse sex-biased philopatry in a cooperative bird: genetic consequences and a social cause". Molecular Ecology 18: 3486-3499.
  • Berg, E. C., J. E. McCormack, and T. B. Smith. 2009. "Test of an adaptive hypothesis for egg speckling along an elevational gradient in a population of Mexican jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina)". Journal of Avian Biology 40(4): 448-452.

  • Ellis, J. M. S., T. A. Langen, and E. C. Berg. 2009. "Signaling for food and sex? Begging by reproductive female white-throated magpie-jays". Animal Behaviour 78: 615-623.
  • Roy, C., J. M. Eadie, E. M. Schauber, N. S. Odell, E. C. Berg, and T. Moore. 2009. "Public information and conspecific nest parasitism in wood ducks: does nest density influence quality of information?" Animal Behaviour 77(6): 1367-1373.
  • Berg, E. C. and D. A. Williams. 2007 (invited submission). "Studying individual interactions and direct fitness benefits in wild birds: history and practice". Behavioural Processes 76(2): 163-166.
  • Berg, E. C. 2005. "Parentage and reproductive success in the white-throated magpie-jay (Calocitta formosa), a cooperative breeder with female helpers". Animal Behaviour 70: 375-385.
  • Berg, E. C. 2004. "A test of sex ratio biasing in the white-throated magpie-jay, a cooperative breeder with female helpers". The Condor 106: 299-308.
  • Williams, D. A., E. C. Berg, A. M. Hale, and C. R. Hughes. 2004. "Characterization of microsatellites for parentage studies of white-throated magpie-jays (Calocitta formosa) and brown jays (Cyanocorax morio)". Molecular Ecology Notes 4(3): 509-511.
  • Wright, J., E. Berg, S. R. DeKort, V. Khazin, and A. A. Maklakov. 2001. "Safe selfish sentinels in a cooperative bird". Journal of Animal Ecology 70(6): 1070-1079.
  • Wright, J., E. Berg, S. R. DeKort, V. Khazin, and A. A. Maklakov. 2001. "Cooperative sentinel behaviour in the Arabian babbler". Animal Behaviour 62(5): 973-979.

Conferences & Lectures

  • Berg, E. C., D. Berger, G. Arnqvist, & A. A. Maklakov.“Multivariate intralocus sexual conflict in seed beetles”.Talk given at the meeting of the International Society forBehavioral Ecology, New York City, New York, 8/14.
  • Berg, E. C., D. Berger, G. Arnqvist, & A. A. Maklakov. "Evolution of metabolism, behavior and body size in response to sex-specific selection on lifespan". Talk given at the Society for the Study of Evolution meeting, Snowbird, Utah, June 2013.
  • Berg, E. C. & A. A. Maklakov. "Sexes suffer from suboptimal lifespan because of genetic conflict in a seed beetle". Talk given at the International Society for Behavioral Ecology, Lund, Sweden, August 2012.
  • Berg, E. C. & A. A. Maklakov. "Intralocus sexual conflict leads to suboptimal lifespan in the seed beetle". Talk given at the Society for the Study of Evolution meeting, Norman, Oklahoma, June 2011. Poster presented at the European Society for Evolutionary Biology meeting, Tübingen, Germany, August 2011.
  • Berg, E. C. "Population genetic structure of tricolored blackbirds". Talks given to members of the Tricolored Blackbird Working Group in Sacramento, California, September 2008, and San Bernardino County Museum, December 2008.
  • Berg, E. C. and A. F. Russell. "Is there an adaptive explanation for egg color and patterning in birds?" Talk given at the meeting of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology, Cornell University, New York, August 2008.
  • Berg, E. C., J. E. McCormack, T. B. Smith. "Variation in Mexican jay egg color and speckling along an elevation gradient in the Sierra del Carmen, Coahuila, Mexico". Poster presented at the North American Ornithological Congress, Veracruz, Mexico, October 2006.
  • Berg, E. C. "Evaluating the effectiveness of AFLP analysis for linking breeding and wintering populations of migratory songbirds". Talk given at the American Ornithologists’s Union Meeting, Santa Barbara, California, August 2005.
  • Berg, E. C. "Reproductive options in the white-throated magpie-jay, a cooperative breeder with female helpers". Awarded honorable mention in the Warner Clyde Allee session of the Animal Behavior Society meeting, Oaxaca, Mexico, June 2004. Talk given at the Society for the Study of Evolution meeting, Fairbanks, Alaska, June 2005.
  • Berg, E. C. "Cooperation and parasitism in the white-throated magpie-jay: helpers (sometimes) do more than help". Talk given at the meeting of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology, Jyväskylä, Finland, July 2004.
  • Berg, E. C. "A test of sex ratio biasing in the white-throated magpie-jay". Poster presented at Animal Behavior Society and American Ornithologists’ Union meetings, July 2003 and August 2003.
  • Berg, E. C. "Delayed dispersal and helping-at-the-nest: Population consequences of cooperative breeding in birds". Talk given at international workshop on “Population Consequences of Individual Behavior” sponsored by NSF Research Training Group in Animal Behavior. UC Davis, April 1998.

Affiliations

  • Reviewer for Molecular Ecology, Biology Letters, Behavioral Ecology, Animal Behaviour, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Journal of Avian Biology, Auk, Ibis, PLoS ONE
  • Animal Behavior Society (ABS), reviewer of ABS student research grants
  • International Society for Behavioral Ecology (ISBE)
  • Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE)
  • European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB)
  • American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU)
  • Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society
  • Phi Sigma National Honor Society, for students in the biological sciences
  • Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society

Research Areas

Behavioral ecology, evolutionary biology, sexual conflict and aging in seed beetles, cooperative breeding in birds, evolution of eggshell speckling in birds.

Curriculum Vitae