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Dr. Attila Hettyey

Konrad-Lorenz-Institute of Ethology
Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution
University of Veterinarian Medicine Vienna
Savoyenstr. 1a
A-1160 Vienna

E-Mail to Attila Hettyey


My research has focussed on several aspects of sexual and natural selection in anuran amphibians (see bullets below). My main interest currently lies in studying systems where sexual coercion by indiscriminative heterospecific males causes reproductive interference and dramatic fitness-loss. What are the direct and indirect costs and benefits of mate choice (and the lack of it) in mating systems ruled by sexual coercion? I find it puzzling, why individual males remain indiscriminative over evolutionary time, despite the obvious costs in terms of energy and time they invest into non-rewarding matings. I tend to doubt and plan to test the common notion that males of many anuran species are completely indiscriminative when it comes to mating, as I find observations and studies that have been done up to date (including my own work) of only limited value. Also, while we have found some intriguing behaviours in females that enable them to counteract negative fitness-effects imposed by coercive heterospecific males, I think there remains a lot to be discovered about female behaviour when facing sexual coercion.
Further fields of interest:

  • Sperm competition in amphibians with external fertilization
  • Limitations to the reproductive potential of males
  • Links between behavioural studies and conservation biology
  • Antipredator-responses in embryos and larvae of anurans and fishes

Current Projects

  • Mechanisms of male and female mate recognition in frogs and toads in co-operation with Herbert Hoi (KLIVV) and Erwin Rosenberg (Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics, Vienna University of Technology)
  • Behavioural responses to sexual coercion in female toads in co-operation with Herbert Hoi (KLIVV) and Christian Walzer (Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna)
  • The importance of digestion-released cues in inducing antipredator defences in co-operation with Anssi Laurila (Department of Population Biology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Sweden)
  • Genetic benefits of mate choice in sticklebacks in co-operation with Dustin Penn and Joachim Frommen (KLIVV)

Curriculum Vitae

Date and place of birth: 23. 08. 1976, Budapest

Nationality: Hungarian

Family status: Married, 1 child


  •     MSc - Biology, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, 2000
  •     Diploma - Technical Translator in German, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, 1999
  •     PhD - Animal ecology, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, 2005

Language skills: Hungarian (mother tongue), German (fluent), English (fluent)

Further Education:

10/1999-02/2000one semester at Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany (graduate studies, scholarship of the State of Thüringen)
10/2000-08/2001postgraduate research in H-U Reyer's lab at the University of Zürich, Switzerland (scholarship of the 'Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students')
10/2000-09/2004graduate studies at the Department of Systematic Zoology and Ecology, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary (Hungarian State PhD-fellowship)
05/2002-06/2002postgraduate research in cooperation with Juha Merilä at Kilpisjärvi Biological Station, University of Helsinki, Finland (scholarship of 'LAPBIAT')
05/2003-04/2004postgraduate research in JD Roberts' lab at The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia (scholarships of 'Australian Education International' and the 'Hungarian Scholarship Board')
02/2005-06/2005postgraduate research at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Comparative Ethology, Vienna, Austria (scholarships of 'Aktion Österreich-Ungarn' and the 'Hungarian Scholarship Board')
03/2006-11/2006post-doctoral research in Anssi Laurila's group at Uppsala University, Sweden (scholarships of the 'Hungarian Scholarship Board' and the 'Swedish Institute')
11/2006-10/2007post-doctoral position at the Department of Systematic Zoology and Ecology, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary (József Öveges Postdoctoral Fellowship)
03/2006-12/2008research grant of the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA, F61374)
02/2007-01/2009post-doctoral position at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology, Vienna, Austria (Austrian Science Fund (FWF), P19264)
09/2009-08/2010post-doctoral position at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology, Vienna, Austria

Certificates and awards received

  • Certificate acknowledging Attila Hettyey's supervisory activity in undergraduate research. 27th National Conference of Undergraduate Researchers, Pécs, 21. 03. 2005.
  • Certificate proving that Attila Hettyey, Krisztián Fodor, Laurice Ereifej have achieved the first place with their competition essay in the branch of Vertebrate Animals I. at the 24th National Conference of Undergraduate Researchers. Debrecen, 02. 04. 1999.
  • Award of the Ministry of Environment for to the competition essay presented at the 24th National Conference of Undergraduate Research. Debrecen, 02. 04. 1999.

 Manuscripts reviewed

  • Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, Amphibia-Reptilia, Animal Behaviour, Behavioral Ecology, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Behaviour, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Copeia, Ethology, Heredity, Italian Journal of Zoology, Journal of Ethology, Journal of Natural History, Journal of Zoology, Naturwissenschaften, North-Western Journal of Herpetology, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Természetvédelmi Közlemények, Diploma thesis submitted at Eötvös Loránd University

Participation in teaching

  • Animal Ecology – practical course for 4th year biology students
  • Behavioural Ecology – lecture for 3rd year biology students
  • Systematic Zoology – practical course for 2nd year biology students

Supervision of undergraduate students' research activity

  • Sexual selection in anuran amphibians – Hévizi G, Vági B, Baksay S, Csillag Á, Ujszegi J
  • Local adaptation to stressful environments in larval anurans – Katona E, Urszán T
  • Predator-induced defences in larval anurans – Vincze K, Zsarnóczai S