I am an evolutionary ecologist with broad interests in ecology and evolution, in the context of a rapidly changing world. Most of my research combines multiple approaches and perspectives.
My main current focus is on the global change of species interactions, and more specifically on anthropogenic evolution of infectious organisms. Understanding how we humans cause selection on parasites and pathogens is of crucial importance, not only in terms of human and animal health, but also because of the links between disease and biodiversity.
Here at UiB I collaborate most with the Theoretical Ecology Group, the Evolutionary Ecology Group, the Fish Disease Group, and the University gardens where I monitor hole-nesting birds. On the teaching side I have collaborated with the interdisciplinary Center for Womens and Gender Research, the Centre for Excellence in Biology Education, and the Department of Natural History, where I have been in charge of permanent exhibitions on Evolution at the University Museum.
Utvalgets kraft / The power of selection (permanent exhibition, UiB's Natural History Museum)
En vitenskap for fremtiden / A science for the future (permanent exhibition, UiB's Natural History Museum)
The meaning of life is 36.8 (in norwegian)
Sex & Gender (in norwegian)
BBC Earth News: Blue tits embrace aromatherapy
Documentary movie: medication in blue tits (Jacques Mitsch, ARTE 2014: from minute 28'50 onwards)
Course development and teaching
I started teaching in 2004 as a teaching assistant, and have since held various positions and taught at various levels (from bachelor to doctoral courses), and on a broad range of topics (from plant biology to behavioural ecology).
As an associate professor I developed from scratch and coordinated a practice-oriented course in general ecology. I also taught in behavioural ecology, parasitology and human evolutionary biology.
During my time in Bergen I have supervised 2 PhD students and 4 MSc students. I have also taught in ecology, evolutionary biology, and parasitology courses.
I taught about natural & sexual selection, adaptive evolution, and Darwin's biography to Humanities students at the Centre for Women and Gender Studies.
Since 2017 I am monitoring a nestbox bird population that is also used as a field site for students of the behavioural ecology course.
I am also collaborating on the PRIME project within the Centre of Excellence in Biology Education (bioCEED), researching on the benefits of practice-based learning.
Supervision of PhD students
2015-2020 Camilla Håkonsrud Jensen
2013-2017 Mathias Stølen Ugelvik
Supervision of MSc students
Steinar Trengereid (ongoing) Influence of sex ratio on mating behaviour in a ectoparasite
Marie Danielsen (2017) Effects of perceived predation risk on extra-pair mating in blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Simon Miljeteig (2015) Neighborhood effects of extra-pair mating on female fitness: testing model predictions on data from blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Camilla Håkonsrud Jensen (2014) Intensive aquaculture: life history responses in energy allocation towards offspring in salmon lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis)
Pauline Jacquemart (2014) The reproduction - survival tradeoff in Drosophila suzukii
Loris Petry (2014) Wooden ravines in intensive farmland: climatic and epidemiological refugia for carabid beatles?
Marie Héraude (2013) Reproductive flexibility in an invasive species (Drosophila suzukii)
Stéphanie Robert (2007) Direct benefits of mate choice and colour signals in the blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Nicolas Saulnier (2006) Olfaction and consequences of the use of aromatic plants in nests of the blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Mennerat, A. Frago, E. 2019. The response of interacting species to biotic seasonal cues. Peer Community in Ecology, 100022 [doi:10.24072/pci.ecology.100022]
Mennerat, A. 2019. Limited dispersal in a vector on territorial hosts. Peer Community in Ecology, 100013 [doi:10.24072/pci.ecology.100013]
Mennerat A, Charmantier A, Hurtrez-Boussès S, Perret P, Lambrechts MM. 2019. Parasite intensity is driven by temperature in a wild bird. BioRxiv 323311 (ver 4), peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Ecology [doi:10.1101/323311]
Mennerat, A, Charmantier, A, Jørgensen, C, Eliassen, S. 2018. Correlates of complete brood failure in blue tits: could extra-pair mating provide unexplored benefits to females? Journal of Avian Biology 49(5) [ doi:10.1111/jav.01701 ]
Mennerat A, Ugelvik MS, Håkonsrud Jensen C, Skorping A. 2017. Invest more and die faster: the life history of a parasite on intensive farms. Evolutionary Applications 10(9): 890-896 [ doi:10.1111/eva.12488 ]
Ugelvik MS, Skorping A, Moberg O, Mennerat A. 2017. Evolution of virulence under intensive farming: Salmon lice increase skin lesions and reduce host growth in salmon farms. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 30(6):1136-1142. [ doi:10.1111/jeb.13082 ]
Mennerat A, Lefèvre T. 2017. Evidence of epistasis provides further support to the Red Queen theory of host-parasite coevolution. Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology. [ doi:10.24072/pci.evolbiol.100006 ] [ open access ]
Ugelvik MS, Mo T, Mennerat A, Skorping A. 2017. Atlantic salmon infected with salmon lice are more susceptible to new lice infections. Journal of Fish Diseases 40:311-317. [ doi:10.1111/jfd.12514 ] [ pdf ]
Ugelvik MS, Skorping A, Mennerat A. 2017. Parasite fecundity decreases with increasing parasite load in the salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis infecting Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. Journal of Fish Diseases 40:671-678. [ doi:10.1111/jfd.12547 ] [ pdf ]
Lambrechts MM, Blondel J, Bernard C, Caro SP, Charmantier A, Demeyrier V, Doutrelant C, Dubuc-Messier G, Fargevieille A, de Franceschi C, Giovannini P, Grégoire A, Lucas A, Mainwaring MC, Marrot P, Mennerat A, Perret S, Perret P. 2016. Exploring biotic and abiotic determinants of nest size in Mediterranean great tits (Parus major) and blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus). Ethology 122:492-501. [ doi:10.1111/eth.12494 ]
Doury G, Pottier J, Ameline A, Mennerat A, Dubois F, Rambaud C, Couty A. 2015. Bioenergy crops and natural enemies: host plant mediated effects of miscanthus on the aphid parasitoid Lysiphlebus testaceipes. Bioenergy Research 8:1275-1273. [ doi:10.1007/s12155-015-9589-y ] [ pdf ]
Mennerat, A., Eslin, P. 2014. À quoi servent les parasites? (What are the benefits of parasites?) in Faune sauvage, biodiversité et santé, QUAE, Morand S., Moutou F., Richomme C. and Gauthier-Clerc M. (eds), pp 51-58
Mennerat A, Hamre L, Ebert D, Nilsen F, Dávidová M, Skorping A. 2012. Life history and virulence are linked in the ectoparasitic salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25:856-861. [ doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02474.x ] [ pdf ]
Mennerat A, Mirleau P, Blondel J, Perret P, Lambrechts MM, Heeb P. 2009. Aromatic plants in nests of the blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus protect chicks from bacteria. Oecologia 161:849-855. [ doi:10.1007/s00442-009-1418-6 ] [ pdf ]
Mennerat A, Perret P, Bourgault P, Blondel J, Gimenez O, Thomas DW, Heeb P, Lambrechts MM. 2009. Aromatic plants in nests of blue tits: positive effects on nestlings. Animal Behaviour 77:569-574. [ doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.11.008 ] [ pdf ]
Mennerat A. 2008. Blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) respond to an experimental change in the aromatic plant odour composition of their nest. Behavioural Processes 79:189-191. [ doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2008.07.003 ] [ pdf ]
Mennerat A, Perret P, Caro SP, Heeb P, Lambrechts MM. 2008. Aromatic plants in blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus nests: no negative effect on blood-sucking Protocalliphora blow fly larvae. Journal of Avian Biology 39:127-132. [ doi:10.1111/j.0908-8857.2008.04400.x ] [ pdf ]
Lambrechts MM, Bourgault P, Mennerat A, Galan MJ, Cartan-Son M, Perret P, Doutrelant C, Charmantier A. 2007. Cavity-nesting black rats in distinct Corsican oak habitats and their potential impact on breeding Paridae. Folia Zoologica 56:445-448. [ open access ] [ pdf ]
Mennerat A, Bonadonna F, Perret P, Lambrechts MM. 2005. Olfactory conditioning experiments in a food-searching passerine bird in semi-natural conditions. Behavioural Processes 70:264-270. [ doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2005.07.005 ] [ pdf ]
I have been using a wide range of organisms depending on the research question (bacteria, parasitoid wasps, Drosophila flies, parasitic blow flies, salmon lice, birds). Here is some more information on my two favourite study species.
The salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis
What exactly are salmon lice? What is their biology and what do they do to their hosts? What do we know about them?
The Salmon Lice Research Centre (SLRC, Bergen) has prepared a little overview here: The Atlantic salmon louse, Lepeophtheirus salmonis
The blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus
Blue tits are my favourite study species; I have been watching their behaviour for about 30 years (yes, that long!) and they have been involved in my research since 2003. I have studied their olfactory abilities, their behavioural responses to parasitism, and more recently their extra-pair mating behaviour.
Blue tits are widely used as a model species in evolutionary ecology because they can be ringed and their reproduction can be monitored using nestboxes, which they readily adopt. This allows to collect large amounts of longitudinal data that can be used in many ways, and in particular to study processes of adaptive evolution in the wild.
The blue tit is a non migratory bird species, which means it can be seen throughout the year in Europe. It is a territorial, socially monogamous species where different pairs breed on different, adjacent territories. Copulations (including extra-pair copulations) occur in early spring. Females build a nest in a cavity (or a nestbox) and lay clutches of 6-12 eggs, which hatch after ca. 2 weeks and the chicks fledge ca. 3 weeks later. The young rely on food and protection provided by both parents.
Ecology & Evolution of parasites
In the ParAnthropE project (NFR, FRIMEDBIO, 2019-2023) we investigate how selection on parasites varies with environmental change, how parasites respond to selection, and what trade-offs are underlying evolutionary changes. We use the salmon louse as a model for anthropogenic parasite evolution. Please get in touch if interested.
Students having worked with me on parasite ecology & evolution: Mathias Stølen Ugelvik (former PhD student), Camilla Håkonsrud Jensen (former MSc student & current PhD student), Steinar Trengereid (current MSc student).
Behavioural ecology of host-parasite interactions
Do free-living animals medicate themselves and how? This was the topic of my PhD.
In southern France and Corsica (CEFE, Montpellier) female blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus garnish their nests with aromatic plants. In a series of field experiments over 4 years, I have shown that by doing so they reduce bacterial loads on their offspring, who then grow and develop better. This behaviour thus appears as a special kind of maternal care taking the form of preventive medication. It was featured in a documentary movie by Jacques Mitsch: "Les animaux médecins" (2014) and on BBC Earth News.
I also study this behaviour in our local nestbox population in Bergen - get in touch if interested!
Effects of predation risk on behaviour and extra-pair mating
Recent theory suggests that extra-pair mating might create incentives for males to invest more into behaviours that are beneficial for their neighbourhood, because their potential reproductive success is spread out among several nearby nests (click here for a Nature News & Views on the topic). Using longitudinal data combined with field experiments in the blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus, I have been investigating the links between predation risk, extra-pair mating and parental behaviour.
Students having worked with me on extra-pair mating and predation risk: Marie Stine Danielsen (former MSc student), Simon Miljeteig (former MSc student)