I am a wildlife biologist interested in the behavioural and physiological aspects of group living in vertebrates. I consider myself to be somewhat of a “research chimera”, as I use methods from different fields to adress a variation of questions in the framework of evolutionary ecology.
Within the last years, I have used a multidisciplinary approach to study factors mediating sociality, such as costs and benefits of reciprocal cooperation in Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus), as well as physiological adaptations to costs of group living, such as the immune system of bats. Generally, I investigated how the condition of an individual can be influenced by various factors and eventually signaled to other group members. I aim at combining these two aspects by focusing on the importance of physiological adaptations to group living, as well as signaling of individual quality among conspecifics.
I recently moved to Potsdam, Germany, to the lab of Jana Eccard, where I will work on eco-immunology and oxidative stress of rodents, manly the common vole (Microtus arvalis) and the bank vole (Myodes glareolus).
Common voles can be either solitary or social, depending on the level of competition within the population. I am interested in what causes the switch from solitary to social life style and which physiological and behavioural factors are associated with it.
Furthermore, I will conduct experiments both in the field and under laboratory conditions on the influence of various factory on immunological parameters and oxidative stress in voles. Here, I’m specifically interested in anthropogenic stressors associated with urbanisation on the physiology and longevity of these short-lived mammals.
Besides, I would like to understand how animals use chemical cues such as olfaction to learn about the health status and immunocompetence of their conspecific. For this, I will collaborate with Barbara Caspers (University of Bielefeld) on two highly gregarious species, the greater sac-winged bat (Saccopteryx bilineata) and zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), where we will experimentally induce immune challenges and measure changes in individual odour profiles.
You can find details on current and past research projects by following the links on the left (will be frequently updated). All resulting publications are available as pdfs for free.