Ane Liv Berthelsen


Throughout my life, I have been driven by a curiosity regarding the natural world and how it operates. I studied my master’s degree in biodiversity, ecology, and evolution to gain an in-depth understanding of patterns that shaped the diversity of life. Building on that foundation, I will explore the effects environment and genetics have on Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella). Particularly, one question is my motivational catalyst: what shapes an individual?

My PhD project in the Hoffman Lab will explore individual trait variation in Antarctic fur seals. The species was hunted to near extinction by the sealing industry but managed to recover. For my project, I will use a detailed individual-based dataset collected from mother-pup pairs at two adjacent breeding colonies over the course of two consecutive breeding seasons. This allows me to investigate the intrinsic and extrinsic factors shaping traits on an individual level.

Previous Research and Other Interests

In my master’s thesis, I used camera trapping to estimate abundance and density of the European Wildcat (Felis silvestris). The species is seldom seen and avoids human settlements, which makes management and species protection tricky. However, the results from this thesis reveal that the wildcat can be tolerant of anthropogenic disturbance such as recreational activities and wind turbines. In addition, the project provided a strong study design for photo capturing wildcats.

In my bachelor’s thesis, I investigated the plastic response to a heat gradient in the African Social Spider (Stegodyphus dumicola). The species is one of the known animal species with the least amount of genetic diversity, which could potentially limit their ability to adapt to climate change. The project suggests that while the species can adapt to increasing temperatures, adapting to decreasing temperatures poses a challenge.

Through my university education, I worked as a science educator at an aquarium. My main task was to fascinate and educate the guests of the center about the ocean and its inhabitants. Additionally, I cleaned the aquariums, fed the animals, and trained the centre’s seals and sharks. It was in this position, that I truly became fascinated with marine animals. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time in nature. Whether it be hiking, bouldering, diving, or something else outdoorsy. Frequently, I can also be seen with a cup of tea and my cat, Phoenix.


Prof. Dr. Joe Hoffman, University of Bielefeld
Dr. Rebecca Nagel, University of Bielefeld

Curriculum Vitae
  • 2022-present: Ph.D. student at University of Bielefeld, Germany
  • 2021-present: Early career researcher – University of Bielefeld, Germany
  • 2021: Science Educator – The Limfjord Museum
  • 2016-2021: Student Science Educator – The Kattegatcentre
  • 2018-2020: Double MSc Biology, Biodiversity. Ecology and Evolution – Aarhus University, Denmark and Göttingen University, Germany.
  • 2015-2018: BSc Biology – Aarhus University

Contact Details

Department of Animal Behaviour
Bielefeld University
Postfach 100131
33501 Bielefeld

email: anelivberthelsen[at]
Linkedin: Ane Liv Berthelsen