Péter L. Pap

Pap Péter László

Péter László Pap, PhD – group leader

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ResearchGate profile


2012–present: Associate professor, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj Napoca, Romania
1998–2012: Lecturer, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj Napoca, Romania
2006–2008: Research fellow, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
1998–2001: PhD (biology), University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
1993–1998: BSc (biology), Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj Napoca, Romania

Research interest

– host-parasite interaction
– physiological background of defence in birds against parasites
– variation of immune function during the annual cycle in birds
– the evolution of moult and feather structure in birds

Ecophysiology in birds
Birds vary in their physiological response to pathogens’ attack, which can be related to their life history. Also, the response may differ during the annual cycle. Here, we focus on the study of physiological response of two model organisms, the house sparrows (Passer domesticus) and the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) to infection, and the way these responses vary during year. We are interested in studying the trade-offs between immune responses and life history traits, such as breeding and moulting. We study these questions in the lab and in the wild. In these projects I work together with Dr. Csongor. I. Vágási, Orsolya Vincze, Dr. Ádám Z. Lendvai and Prof. Zoltán Barta.

Comparative studies
We use phylogenetic comparative methods to test various evolutionary hypotheses related to morphological traits (i.e. gland size, feather quality traits), physiology (i.e. immune defence, oxidative physiology) and life history in birds. Currently we investigate how life history traits affect the physiological defence strategy in European birds. Also, we are currently running a project which aims to uncover the cause of variation wing shape and of the structural built up of flight and contour feathers in European birds. In these projects I work together with Dr. Csongor. I. Vágási and Orsolya Vincze and Prof. Anders Pape Møller.

Recent grants and awards

2005 – Hungarian Scientific Research Fund, Hungary (3 year PostDoc fellowship)
2005 – The role of health status and immunocompetence, mediated by feather quality on the evolution of life history traits. A case study on the great tit (Parus major). Hungarian-Romanian bilateral grant, Hungary, Romania
2006 – Annual and spatial variation of immunocompetence and susceptibility to parasitism in the house sparrow: possible implication of cohabitation between wild birds and poultry in disease transmission, CEEX grants, Romanian Ministry of Education and Research
2007 – Integrating Cooperation Research across Europe, FP6 grants of the European Union
2010 – Resistance and tolerance to parasitism as a mediator of avian life-history: the role of oxidative stress and immune cell system, TE grants, Romanian Ministry of Education and Research
2013 – John von Neumann research fellow at the University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary


  1. Fülöp A, Vágási CI and Pap PL 2017. Cohabitation with farm animals rather than breeding effort increases the infection with feather-associated bacteria in the barn swallow Hirundo rustica. Journal of Avian Biology (in press). pdf

  1. Geue JC, Vágási CI, Schweizer M, Pap PL and Thomassen HA 2016. Environmental selection is a main driver of divergence in house sparrows (Passer domesticus) in Romania and Bulgaria. Ecology and Evolution 6: 7954–7964.

  1. Wilkins MR, Karaardıç H, Vortman Y, Parchman TL, Albrecht T, Petrželková A, Özkan L, Pap PL, Hubbard JK, Hund AK and Safran RJ 2016. Phenotypic differentiation is associated with divergent sexual selection among closely related barn swallow populations. Journal of Evolutionary Biology (in press).

  1. Safran RJ, Scordato ESC, Wilkins MR, Hubbard JK, Jenkins BR, Albrecht T, Flaxman SM, Karaardıç H, Vortman Y, Lotem A, Nosil P, Pap P, Shen S, Chan SF, Parchman T and Kane NC 2016. Genome-wide differentiation in closely related populations: the roles of selection and geographic isolation. Molecular Ecology 25: 3865–3883.

  1. Vágási CI, Vincze O, Pătraș L, Osváth G, Marton A, Bărbos L, Sol D and Pap PL 2016. Large-brained birds suffer less oxidative damage. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29: 1968–1976.

  1. Fülöp A, Czirják GÁ, Pap PL and Vágási CI 2016. Feather-degrading bacteria, uropygial gland and feather quality in House Sparrows Passer domesticus. Ibis 158: 362–370.

  1. Vágási CI, Pap PL, Vincze O, Osváth G, Erritzøe J and Møller AP 2016. Morphological adaptations to migration in birds. Evolutionary Biology 43: 48–59.

  1. Paștiu AI, Pap PL, Vágási CI, Niculae M, Páll E, Brudașcă FG and Spînu M 2016. Wild birds in Romania are more exposed to West Nile virus than to Newcastle Disease virus. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 16: 176–180.

  1. Vincze O, Vágási CI, Pap PL, Osváth G and Møller AP 2015. Brain regions associated with visual cues are important for bird migration. Biology Letters 11: 20150678. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Osváth G, Aparicio JM, Bărbos L, Matyjasiak P, Rubolini D, Saino N, Vágási CI, Vincze O and Møller AP 2015. Sexual dimorphism and population differences in structural properties of barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) wing and tail feathers. PLoS ONE 10: e0130844. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Pătraș L, Osváth G, Buehler DM, Versteegh MA, Sesarman A, Banciu M and Vágási CI 2015. Seasonal patterns and relationships among coccidian infestations, measures of oxidative physiology, and immune function in free-living house sparrows over an annual cycle. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 88: 395–405. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Osváth G, Sándor K, Vincze O, Bărbos L, Marton A, Nudds RL and Vágási CI 2015. Interspecific variation in the structural properties of flight feathers in birds indicates adaptation to flight requirements and habitat. Functional Ecology 29: 746–757. pdf

    Spotlighted paper in the 29(6) issue of Functional Ecology.

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Vincze O, Osváth G, Veres-Szászka J and Czirják GÁ. 2015. Physiological pace of life: the link between constitutive immunity, developmental period, and metabolic rate in European birds. Oecologia 177: 147–158. pdf

  1. Diaz-Real J, Serrano D, Pérez-Tris J, Fernández-González S, Bermejo A, Calleja JA, De la Puente J, De Palacio D, Martínez JL, Moreno-Opo R, Ponce C, Frías Ó, Tella JL, Møller AP, Figuerola J, Pap PL, Kovács I, Vágási CI, Meléndez L, Blanco G, Aguilera E, Senar JC, Galván I, Atiénzar F, Barba E, Cantó JL, Cortés V, Monrós JS, Piculo R, Vögeli M, Borràs A, Navarro C, Mestre A and Jovani R 2014. Repeatability of feather mite prevalence and intensity in passerine birds. PLoS ONE 9: e107341. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Sesarman A, Vágási CI, Buehler DM, Pătraș L, Versteegh MA and Banciu M 2014. No Evidence for Parasitism-linked Changes in Immune Function or Oxidative Physiology over the Annual Cycle of an Avian Species. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 87: 729–739. pdf

  1. Bókony V, Lendvai ÁZ, Vágási CI, Pătraș L, Pap PL, Németh J, Vincze E, Papp S, Preiszner B, Seress G and Liker A. 2014. Necessity or capacity? Physiological state predicts problem-solving performance in house sparrows. Behavioral Ecology 25: 124–135. pdf

  1. Møller AP, Merino S, Soler JJ, Antonov A, Badás EP, Calero-Torralbo MA, de Lope F, Eeva T, Figuerola J, Flensted-Jensen E, Garamszegi LZ, González-Braojos S, Gwinner H, Hanssen SA, Heylen D, Ilmonen P, Klarborg K, Korpimäki E, Martínez J, Martínez-de la Puente J, Marzal A, Matthysen E, Matyjasiak P, Molina-Morales M, Moreno J, Mousseau TA, Nielsens JT, Pap PL, Rivero-de Aguilar J, Shurulinkov P, Slagsvold T, Szép T, Szöllősi E, Török J, Vaclav R, Valera F and Ziane N 2013. Assessing the Effects of Climate on Host-Parasite Interactions: A Comparative Study of European Birds and their Parasites. PLoS ONE 8: e82886. pdf

  1. Vincze O, Vágási CI, Kovács I, Galván I and Pap PL 2013. Sources of variation in uropygial gland size in European birds. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 110: 543–563. pdf

  1. Møller AP, Vágási CI and Pap PL 2013. Risk-taking and the evolution of mechanisms for rapid escape from predators. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26: 1143–1150. pdf

  1. Czirják GÁ, Pap PL, Vágási CI, Giraudeau M, Mureşan C, Mirleau P and Heeb P 2013. Preen gland removal increases plumage bacterial load but not that of feather-degrading bacteria. Naturwissenschaften 100: 145–151. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Bărbos L and Marton A 2013. Chronic coccidian infestation compromises flight feather quality in house sparrows Passer domesticus. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 108: 414–428. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Adam C, Vágási CI, Benkő Z and Vincze O 2013. Sex ratio and sexual dimorphism of three lice species with contrasting prevalence parasitizing the house sparrow. Journal of Parasitology 99: 24–30. pdf

  1. Vágási CI, Pap PL, Vincze O, Benkő Z, Marton A and Barta Z 2012. Haste Makes Waste but Condition Matters: Molt Rate-Feather Quality Trade-Off in a Sedentary Songbird. PLoS ONE 7: e40651. pdf

  1. Galván I, Aguilera E, Atiénzar F, Barba E, Blanco G, Cantó JL, Cortés V, Frías Ó, Kovács I, Meléndez L, Møller AP, Monrós JS, Pap PL, Piculo R, Senar JC, Serrano D, Tella JL, Vágási CI, Vögeli M and Jovani R 2012. Feather mites and body condition of their avian hosts: a large correlative study. Journal of Avian Biology 43: 273–279. pdf

  1. Marzal A, Ricklefs RE, Valkiūnas G, Albayrak T, Arriero E, Bonneaud C, Czirják GÁ, Ewen J, Hellgren O, Horakova D, Iezhova TA, Jensen H, Križanauskienė A, Lima MR, de Lope F, Magnussen E, Martin LB, Møller AP, Palinauskas V, Pap PL, Pérez-Tris J, Sehgal RNM, Soler M, Szöllősi E, Westerdahl H, Zetindjiev P and Bensch S 2011. Diversity, Loss, and Gain of Malaria Parasites in a Globally Invasive Bird. PLoS ONE 6: e21905. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Czirják GÁ, Titilincu A, Pintea A, Osváth G, Fülöp A and Barta Z 2011. The effect of coccidians on the condition and immune profile of molting house sparrows (Passer domesticus). Auk 128: 330–339. pdf

  1. Vágási CI, Pap PL, Tökölyi J, Székely E and Barta Z 2011. Correlates of variation in flight feather quality in the Great Tit Parus major. Ardea 99: 53–60. pdf

  1. Vágási CI, Pap PL and Barta Z 2010. Haste Makes Waste: Accelerated Molt Adversely Affects the Expression of Melanin-based and Depigmented Plumage Ornaments in House Sparrows. PLoS ONE 5: e14215. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Osváth G, Mureşan C and Barta Z 2010. Seasonality in the uropygial gland size and feather mite abundance in house sparrows: natural covariation and an experiment. Journal of Avian Biology 41: 653–661. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Czirják GÁ, Vágási CI, Barta Z and Hasselquist D 2010. Sexual dimorphism in immune function changes during the annual cycle in the house sparrows. Naturwissenschaften 97: 891–901. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Tökölyi J, Czirják GÁ and Barta Z 2010. Variation in haematological indices and immune function during the annual cycle in the Great Tit Parus major. Ardea 98: 105–112. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Czirják GÁ, Titilincu A, Pintea A and Barta Z 2009. Carotenoids modulate the effect of coccidian infection on the condition and immune response in moulting house sparrows. Journal of Experimental Biology 212: 3228–3235. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Czirják GÁ and Barta Z 2008. Diet quality affects postnuptial molting and feather quality of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus): interaction with humoral immune function? Canadian Journal of Zoology 86: 834–842. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Barta Z, Tökölyi J and Vágási CI 2007. Increase of feather quality during moult: a possible implication of feather deformities in the evolution of partial moult in the great tit. Journal of Avian Biology 38: 471–478. pdf

  1. Szép T, Møller AP, Piper S, Nuttall R, Szabó DZ and Pap PL 2007. Migratory connectivity in barn swallows and other hirundines. Journal of Ornithology 148: 257–260. pdf

  1. Stokke BG, Hafstad I, Rudolfsen G, Bargain B, Beier J, Campas DB, Dyrcz A, Honza M, Leisler B, Pap PL, Patapavicius P, Prochazka P, Schulze-Hagen K, Thomas R, Moksnes A, Møller AP, Røskaft E and Soler M 2007. Host density predicts presence of cuckoo parasitism in reed warblers. Oikos 116: 913–922. pdf

  1. Møller AP, Chabi Y, Cuervo JJ, de Lope F, Kilpimaa J, Kose M, Matyjasiak P, Pap PL, Saino N, Sakraoui R, Schifferli L and von Hirschheydt J 2006. An analysis of continent-wide patterns of sexual selection in a passerine bird. Evolution 60: 856–868. pdf

  1. Szép T, Møller AP, Piper S, Nuttall R, Szabó ZD and Pap PL 2006. Searching for potential wintering and migration areas of a Danish Barn Swallow population in South Africa by correlating NDVI with survival estimates. Journal of Ornithology 147: 245–253. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Szép T, Tökölyi J and Piper S 2006. Habitat preference, escape behavior and cues used by feather mites to avoid molting wing feathers. Behavioral Ecology 17: 277–284. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Tökölyi J and Szép T 2005. Host-symbiont relationship and abundance of feather mites in relation to age and body condition of the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica): an experimental study. Canadian Journal of Zoology 83: 1059–1066. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Tökölyi J and Szép T 2005. Frequency and consequences of feather holes in Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica. Ibis 146: 169–175. pdf

  1. Pap PL and Márkus R 2003. Cost of reproduction, T-lymphocyte mediated immunocompetence and health status in female and nestling Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica. Journal of Avian Biology 34: 428–434. pdf

  1. Pap PL 2002. Breeding time and sex-specific health status in the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica). Canadian Journal of Zoology 80: 2090–2099. pdf

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