- Studium der Biologie, Hauptfach Tierphysiologie: Universität Bayreuth
- Promotion zur Dr. rer. nat.: WWU Münster
- Post-doc: Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, Amsterdam, Niederlande
- Habilitation in Zoologie: WWU Münster
- Animal Welfare
- Grundlagenmodul Biologie (Laborbiologie)
- Pränatale Beeinflussung von Physiologie und Verhalten
- Stress, Stressvermeidung und Wohlergehen
The prenatal programming of behaviour in mammals
Stressors acting prenatally and/or during the early postnatal period of life can distinctly influence the offsprings´ physiological and behavioural development as well as their reproductive functions. In most experimental studies on prenatal stress pregnant non-human mammals were exposed to non-social stressors. We are interested in the influence of the social environment, which can be during pregnancy crucial for the development of the offspring. Thus we developed a prenatal stress model in guinea pigs. We could show that the stability of the social environment in which the pregnant females live is critical for the offsprings´ social and sexual behaviour later in life as well as for reproductive functioning, endocrine state and androgen and estrogen receptor distribution in specific parts of the brain. We investigate the neuroendocrine mechanisms mediating the influence of the social environment during pregnancy on the offsprings´ behaviour. Furthermore we are interested in the function of these effects: Can mothers adjust their offspring to the environment in which they live during pregnancy in an efficient way or represent the behavioural effects of prenatal social stress pathological consequences of adverse social conditions?
Animal welfare is a central topic in modern behavioural biology. Scientific research is needed to answer questions about optimal housing conditions and other welfare issues concerning animals kept by humans. We use different approaches to adress these questions in a variety of mammals. Besides behavioural observations, preference tests are carried out and endocrinological parameters are assessed. Effects of social and non-social factors are elucidated. For example consequences of the presence of a social partner or living in an enriched environment as well as experiences made during ontogeny are investigated.
- Prof. Dr. Michael Hennessy, Department of Psychology, Dayton, Ohio, USA
- Dr. Frank P. M. Kruijver, Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, Amsterdam, Niederlande
- Prof. Dr. Rainer H. Straub, Institut für Innere Medizin, Universität Regensburg-Klinikum, Deutschland
- Prof. Dr. Dick F. Swaab, Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, Amsterdam, Niederlande