Our research spans and integrates physiological mechanisms (e.g. ion transporter activities, organismal metabolic rate) to ecological processes (e.g. susceptibility to food limitations, consequences for population dynamics and community composition). Our research deals with animals ranging from ectothermic snails to endothermic birds and bats, but with an emphasis on aquatic ectotherms such as fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects. Below we give an overview of our research lines. More details can be found on the individual websites of our staff and in the lists of student research projects.
Ecology: Within the context of conservation biology we study the spatial population dynamics of endangered or invasive populations. We investigate how trade-offs of energy allocations shape life history strategies and take a comparative approach to understand macro-evolutionary patterns. Examples include the relative roles of phenotypic plasticity and rapid evolution in the response of populations to changing environments.
Ecophysiology: Within the context of climate change we study the link between respiration physiology and thermal biology, striving to predict the vulnerability of ectotherm species to global warming from species’ traits related to metabolism, body size and mode of respiration. Within the context of sustainable food resources we study how environmental conditions (resource availability) link to animal growth and development, striving to improve aquaculture practices with a science-based understanding of the effects of salinity challenges, feeding regimes and type of feed. Within the context of conservation biology we investigate the key physiological traits and relate these to population dynamics. Examples include the role of immune systems (i.e. the major histocompatibility complex) in setting effective population size via assortative mating, and the susceptibility of ectotherm herbivores to deterioration in host plant quality.
Physiology: We study linkages between gene regulation, hormonal signaling and whole-organism physiology in relation to animal welfare, to understand strategies to cope with stress and within the context of translational models. Examples include our work on fish scales as a model in bone research with links to osteoporose, work on key hormones (thyroid hormone, leptin, cortisol) to understand how animals remodel energetic pathways in response to stressors.