Taylor Rystrom

PhD Student

 

© WWU/MGSE

Department of Behavioural Biology
Institute of Neuro- and Behavioural Biology
Badestr. 13
D-48149 Münster, Germany
Tel.: +49 251/83-21004
rystrom@uni-muenster.de

Nationality: USA

Education

  • Since 2018:
    PhD studies in the Department of Behavioural Biology, Institute of Neuro- and Behavioural Biology, University of Münster, Germany
  • 2015 - 2018:
    Master of Science in Organismic, Evolutionary, and Palaeobiology (M.S.c.), Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Germany
  • 2014 - 2015:
    Study Abroad, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 2011 - 2015:
    Bachelor of Arts in Biology (B.A.), Specialization in Ecology and Conservation Biology, Boston University College of Arts and Sciences, Boston, MA, USA

Work experience

  • 2016, 2017 - 2018:
    Student Assistant, Coleoptera Collection, Zoological Research Museum Alexander König, Bonn, Germany
  • 2015:
    Assistant to the Director, Stillman Nature Center, South Barrington, IL, USA
  • 2015:
    Animal Care Intern, Fox Valley Wildlife Center, Elburn, IL, USA
  • 2015:
    Undergraduate Assistant, Vertebrate Zoology, Boston University College of Arts and Sciences, Boston, MA, USA

Supervisors

  • Prof. Dr. Sylvia Kaiser, Institute for Neuro- and Behavioural Biology, Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Münster
  • Prof. Dr. Norbert Sachser, Institute for Neuro- and Behavioural Biology, Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Münster
  • Prof. Dr. Oliver Krüger, Department of Animal Behaviour, Behavioural Ecology, Bielefeld University

Research interests

  • tba

PhD project description

Social niche conformance in female guinea pigs: Evidence for adaptive shaping of the behavioral phenotype during adolescence?

For social animals, the environment is highly influenced by the interactions among conspecifics. Stable group-living allows for communication via consistent behavioral cues among group members, and this often results in the generation and maintenance of individual social niches which are closely linked to internal state. Adapting to the social environment by filling a social niche will thus maximize individual fitness. Early phases in life have been identified as sensitive periods for individuals to adapt their phenotype to match their environment. However, it is not known to what extent individuals, especially females, can adapt their behavior to their social environment in adolescence and adulthood. This project will use guinea pigs as a model system to examine for the first time if social niche conformance occurs for females in adolescence and beyond. We will investigate how internal state, using pregnant and non-pregnant females, and dominance rank, using dominant and subdominant females, influence the behavioral phenotype in adolescence and adulthood. Social niche transitions will also be experimentally induced by manipulating the dominance rank. Since cortisol reactivity proves more and more to be a key element of adaptation in vertebrates, we will not only focus on the behavioral and reproductive output but also on this neuroendocrine parameter as an important underlying mechanism. This project will contribute substantially to the question of whether animals conform to social environments in an adaptive way during adolescence and beyond.

Publications