Behavior and Physiology


Topic & aims: Animals constantly interact with their environment. They have to adjust to changes in their social environment, to seasonal changes and to stressors, such as predators or inclement weather. These adjustments are often mediated by hormones that help individuals to respond adequately to environmental variation. Today humans have penetrated almost any habitat on the planet and this has far reaching consequences for the animals living there. While some species are able to cope, others are not and they are in decline. I am interested in the interplay between behavior and hormones in different environments, and whether and how animals respond behaviourally and physiologically to anthropogenic habitat change.

Approaches & methods: I use birds as model systems and comparative and experimental approaches to study, for example, the role of hormones (testosterone and corticosterone) as mediators of reproductive behaviors (e.g. territorial behavior, song and parental care) and stress hormones (e.g. corticosterone) as indicators of environmental stress in wild animal populations.