Doctoral students

Carina Nebel

Carina Nebel
MSc Zoology (Vienna)

John Day Building: 1.02
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 3292
Fax: +27 (0)21 650 3295


Growing up in the city of Vienna, Austria, close to the Vienna Zoo, animals were always part of Carina’s childhood. Her fascination of birds was the main reason she decided to study in the field of Zoology. In her MSc thesis, she focused on the population genetics and the phylogeography of the Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), a charismatic and well-known eagle species in the Northern hemisphere. She carried out this study at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, where she discovered her interest in raptor research but also learned how tricky and challenging it can be to work with museum specimens that are well over 100 years old.

After her graduation at the University of Vienna in 2014, Carina decided to stay at the Natural History Museum and expand her knowledge and expertise on different molecular methodologies. She planned and set up a follow-up project on her master thesis and got involved in another bird-related research project, this time on the conservation genetics of the last Austrian European rollers (Coracias garrulus). Her work provided data on the genetic diversity and levels of inbreeding of this critically endangered population of European rollers, which will foster future management decisions.

While most of her research activities were based in Central Europe, she also participated in internships on the Canary Islands and in Namibia. During her research on the Namibian Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), she discovered her fascination for Southern Africa.

In 2017 she joined the Black Sparrowhawk team at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology as a PhD student under the supervision of A/Prof Arjun Amar and Dr Petra Sumasgutner. The Black sparrowhawk (Accipiter melanoleucus) is a plumage polymorphic raptor species inhabiting the Cape peninsula. Carina‘s PhD will focus on the reasons for the colour-polymorphism maintenance, especially on the eco-immunological, physiological and environmental mechanisms involved.


Understanding the mechanism promoting polymorphism in Black sparrowhawks. (Supervisors: Arjun Amar, Petra Sumasgutner)

Peer-reviewed publications

Nebel, C., Sumasgutner, P., Pajot, A. and Amar, A. 2019. Response time of an avian prey to a simulated hawk attack is slower in darker conditions, but is independent of hawk colour morph. Royal Society Open Science 6: 190677 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.190677

Nebel, C., Kadletz, K., Gamauf, A., Haring, E., Sackl, P., Tiefenbach, M., Winkler, H. and Zachos F.E. 2018. Witnessing extinction: Population genetics of the last European Rollers (Coracias garrulus) in Austria and a first phylogeographic analysis of the species across its distribution range. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 57(2):461-475 DOI: 10.1111/jzs.12256

Nebel, C., Gamauf, A., Haring, E., Segelbacher, G., Villers, A. and Zachos F. E. (2015) Mitochondrial DNA analysis reveals Holarctic homogeneity and a distinct Mediterranean lineage in the Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 116(2):328-340. DOI: 10.1111/bij.12583