Ernst Mayr Lecture 2022


30. November 2022

Akademiegebäude am Gendarmenmarkt, Leibniz-Saal, Markgrafenstraße 38, 10117 Berlin

Den diesjährigen Vortrag mit dem Titel "Nature’s Palette: How and Why Color Varies in the Wild" hält Hopi Hoekstra (Harvard University). Verfolgen Sie die Ernst Mayr Lecture vor Ort oder per Livestream unter: 

© Kris Snibbe, Harvard University
Hopi E. Hoekstra

In nature, animals vary tremendously in their color and color pattern. But, why? And, how?

Whether it is the brilliant blue wings of a butterfly, the charismatic stripes of a zebra, or the camouflaging fur of a rodent scurrying in the underbrush, animals display color in vastly different ways. And, color can serve many purposes – to conceal, warn, intimidate or attract.

For the last two decades, Hopi E. Hoekstra has been tackling the question of how and why animals vary in color with experiments both in the laboratory and in the field, using as a model what she refers to as charismatic mini-fauna (i. e. mice). But, much of what she has learned in mice can be applied to other mammals, including humans. Here, Hopi E. Hoekstra will discuss the many ways that color is made, used and perceived by animals – and how this diversity testifies to the power, elegance and ingenuity of natural selection.

Hopi E. Hoekstra received her B. A. in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley. She completed her Ph. D. in 2000 as a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington. She then moved to the University of Arizona as a NIH Postdoctoral Fellow where she studied the genetic basis of adaptive melanism in pocket mice. In 2003, she became an Assistant Professor at UC San Diego. 2006, she moved to Harvard University, where she is currently the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in the Departments of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and Molecular & Cellular Biology, the Curator of Mammals at the Museum of Comparative Zoology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. She is broadly interested in the genetic basis of adaptation – from morphology to behavior – in vertebrates, primarily wild mice. Hopi E. Hoekstra is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.


The Ernst Mayr Lecture is a lecture series in the field of the life sciences sponsored by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin . The biennial lecture aims to communicate the development of biological thinking by leading scientists from various disciplines to a wider audience. The series thus refers to one of the main works of the ornithologist and evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) entitled „The Growth of Biological Thought“ and was inaugurated by himself in autumn 1997.



  • Christoph Markschies (President of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities)


  • Dieter Ebert (Permanent Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg and Professor of Zoology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Basel)

Nature's Palette: How and Why Color Varies in the Wild

  • Hopi E. Hoekstra (Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in the Departments of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and Molecular & Cellular Biology at Harvard University)

Die Veranstaltung findet in englischer Sprache statt.

Dr. Karin Elisabeth Becker
Leiterin des Präsidialbüros
Tel.: +49 (0)30 20370 241 
Jägerstraße 22/23
10117 Berlin
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