Physiological and Behavioral Flexibility in the Striped Mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio) :
Adaptations to Droughts and Pre-Adaptation to Climate Change ?
The main goal of my research is to understand how evolved physiological mechanisms allow animals to behave adaptively in their changing natural environment.
My research interest focuses on how hormone secretion is influenced by the environment, what the physiological consequences are, and how hormones influence behavior. We perform field studies and experiments under standardized laboratory conditions, where we mimic the natural situation.
Our study species is the African striped mouse , which shows high social flexibility, ranging from solitary living to living in extended family groups. It occurs in the Succulent Karoo semi-desert of South Africa which is characterized by cold wet winters and hot dry summers. While in the last 10 years I focused on understanding social flexibility as an adaptation to this extreme environment, the focus switches now to physiological flexibility.
The research station is a South African non-profit organization. Its aim is to support basic research in the fields of behavioral ecology and evolutionary physiology in the Succulent Karoo, a biodiversity hotspot. It is well equipped for field work, has a strong solar system, basic laboratory equipment, a respirometry laboratory, and provides space for up to 10 students and researchers.
Research manager, J. Mulvey (graduate from Exeter University, U.K.)
Station manager, J. Jäger (graduate from the University of Potsdam, Germany)
Postdoctorial researcher, Dr. R. Rimbach (graduate from the University of Göttingen, Germany). Reducing Daily Energy Expenditure as an Adaptive Responses to Droughts. Since 2014.
PhD student, C.H. Yuen (graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University). Personality in African striped mice
Master 2 student, P. Agnani, intra-specific variation in social organization in primates.
Postdoctorial researcher Dr. I. Schoepf (graduate from the University of Zurich, Swizerland) : Costs of adaptation to droughts and the influence of reproductive competition on social flexibility. Since 2013.
Postdoctorial researcher Dr. A. Maille (graduate from the Université de Rennes 1, France) : Eco-physiology of cognition. Since 2013.
Since October 2014 : DR2 researcher, Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien, Département d’Ecologie Physiologie et Ethologie, Strasbourg, France.
2013 : Appointment as Honorary Professor at the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
October 2012 : CR1 researcher, Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien, Département d’Ecologie Physiologie et Ethologie, Strasbourg, France
2011 : Appointment as Honorary Associate Professor at the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2008 : Habilitation at the Faculty of Sciences, University of Zurich. Venia Legendi in Zoology.
2005-2012 : Group leader, Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies.
2001-2005 : Postdoctoral scientist at the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
1997-2001 : PhD thesis at the Anthropological Institute, University of Zurich, Switzerland. PhD in Anthropology (Dr. sc. nat).
1997 : Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (Germany) ; diploma in biology. Diploma thesis at the Max-Planck-Institute for Behavioural Physiology, Seewiesen.