Dr Antica Culina

Dr Antica Culina

Antica Culina


Name: Dr Antica Culina
Position: Research Associate
Email: antica.culina@zoo.ox.ac.uk


There are two main research areas that are at the centre of my current interests in biology: animal ecology and behaviour, and their application in the nature conservation. Over the last seven years I have focused, to the larger extent, on the projects that have applied the knowledge of animal ecology in nature conservation.

I graduated in biology at the University of Zagreb, Croatia in 2008. For my thesis I worked on the urban bird populations in urban parks in Zagreb. I assessed the composition and diversity of bird communities in the parks and evaluated the relationship between avifaunal and park characteristics. I used the results of my study to address the importance of these areas in the conservation and promotion of bird populations in urban areas, together with guidelines for park management.

During my studies, and after graduation, Ive been working on a number of bird and (to a lesser extent) small mammal monitoring projects in Croatia. Most of the research was in co-operation with two Croatian biological associations (BIOM and BIUS) and the Croatian Institute of Ornithology.


Although predominantly socially monogamous (~85% of species), birds are far away from being genetically monogamous – extra pair mating has been recorded in 75%, and divorce in 90% of socially monogamous species. The main aim of my work is to increase our understanding of mate fidelity and divorce in monogamous species across three different hierarchical levels: species, population, and individual level. To do this I use three novel approaches: phylogenetic meta-analysis, multi-event capture-mark-recapture (MCMR) modelling, and the social network analysis. In the meta-analyses on 64 monogamous bird species I show that divorce is an adaptive strategy as it is triggered by generally low breeding success, and as it leads to increase in breeding success between the two seasons (Culina et al. 2014). I have also developed a method to estimate accurate and unbiased rates of pair fidelity, and can be used to test hypotheses on costs, benefits and external correlates of pair fidelity. We have than used this method to show that partner change is costly in the Wytham great tit population: we found that birds that have changed partner have significantly lower survival rates than faithful birds (Culina et al. 2013). Subsequently, I confirmed the generality of a survival benefit by applying the model to breeding data on other tit populations. Then, by applying the model to data from a population of mute swans, I showed that fidelity decreases the likelihood of skipping breeding and mortality in this long-lived species, and that these effects depended on age, individual quality, and immigration status (Culina et al. in prep)

Finally, I investigated how the timing of pair formation influences breeding success and divorce probability using five years of data on the over-winter social behaviour of great tits. I showed that early pair formation had a positive effect on fitness components, influencing the likelihood of divorce only indirectly, through breeding success. Further, my work revealed that males, but not females, with higher numbers of the female associates in winter, and males whose future breeding partners were ranked low amongst these, divorced more often.

I am also interested in human pair bonds, and the functional and evolutionary significance of stable pair bonding in humans.

Please see my personal web-site for more details https://anticaculina.wordpress.com


Culina A., Radersma R., Sheldon B.C. (2014). Trading up: the fitness consequences of divorce in monogamous birds. Biological Reviews: DOI: 10.1111/brv.12143

Culina A., Lachish S., Pradel R., Choquet R. & Sheldon B.C (2013): A multievent approach to estimating pair fidelity and heterogeneity in state transitions.  Ecology and Evolution 3, 4326-4338.

Culina A., Lachish S., Perrins C.M & Sheldon B.C (submitted): Stuck in a rut: state-dependent analysis of causes and life history correlates of partner change in mute swans.

Culina A., Lachish S., & Sheldon B.C (submitted): Evidence of a link between survival and pair fidelity across multiple tit populations.

Mikulic K., Budinski I., Culina A., Jurinovic L. & Lucic V. (2013): The return of the Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni as a breeding bird to Croatia. Acrocephalus 34, 71-74.

Budinski I., Culina A., Mikulić K. & Jurinović L. (2010). Bird species that have significantly changed breeding range on Croatian coastal area: comparison of 30 years old data and recent knowledge. Bird Census News 23: 49-58. 

Papers in preparation

Culina A., Hinde C.A & Sheldon B.C.: Who will divorce: Carry over effects of social environment in which a pair has formed on future divorce probability in great tits.