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apl. Prof. Dr. Ute Radespiel

apl. Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Radespiel

Main interests

 

Behavioral Ecology

 

A central question in behavioral ecology is how extent species adapt behaviorally and ecologically to habitat fluctuations in their natural environment and to what extent ecological plasticity is linked to the distribution of species and to speciation. We address these questions in a long-term research program by a comparative and integrative approach applied to nocturnal lemurs which are good models for basal primates.

 

We aim to understand the traits (e.g. ecology, behavior) that shaped the distribution and adaptation of lemurs. We are also addressing the question of the basis of reproductive isolation of species. These analyses are focused on the genera Microcebus spp., Lepilemur spp. and Avahi ssp. We perform field studies, supplemented by experimental studies, particularly in north-western, northern and eastern Madagascar, using comparable methods, to study the ecology, behavior, parasite infections and the genetics of species showing contrasting distribution, and to assess sensory, ecological and social determinants of species flexibility and its link to genetics.

 

Female dominance over males is generally defined as the ability of adult females to consistently evoke submissive behavior in adult males on an individual level. Female dominance is a rare trait in mammals and within primates, but seems to be widespread among the lemurs of Madagascar. How and why female dominance evolved in lemurs is discussed controversially. By focussing on natural and experimentally induced social interactions in nocturnal lemur taxa, we explore current hypotheses and analyze proximate factors governing female dominance in this primate group.

 

The sensitivity and specificity of pheromone perception depends on the olfactory receptor repertoire present in the epithelium of the vomeronasal organ and the main olfactory epithelium. We are interested in evaluating the functional VNO receptor repertoire of the nocturnal mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) that are well known for their extensive use of olfactory marking behaviors. We study the variability, selection and phylogenetic ancestry of the VNO repertoire of mouse lemurs and the olfactory perception capacities of this small primate model.

 

Evolutionary biology, biodiversity and conservation

 

Lemurs underwent a broad-scale adaptive radiation after their initial colonization of Madagascar about 60 Mya. Extant lemurs consist of more than 100 species which inhabit the various forest habitats of the Island. Many species, in particular nocturnal species, have only been described recently, partly by our group. Whereas some species show quite limited geographic ranges, others show broad distributions. The underlying colonisation history and the factors driving this diversification are so far only poorly known. We aim to understand the factors that promoted this radiation and shaped the distribution, adaptation and genetic structures of lemurs. These analyses are focused on the genera Microcebus spp., Lepilemur spp. and Avahi ssp.

 

Nocturnal lemurs belong to the endangered primates due to anthropogenic habitat loss, fragmentation, habitat degradation and poaching. We perform field studies to study the abundance, ecology, parasite infections and the genetics of populations of lemurs undergoing different levels of threats in various parts of the island. Long-term study sites include the Ankarafantsika National Park (work since 1995) and the Mariarano forest (work since 2003) that both contain different habitat types, including xerophytic forests, dry deciduous forests, semi-humid gallery forests along rivers or lake shores, coastal mangrove forests (Mariarano) and secondary vegetation formations that may develop after bushfires or selective wood extraction. This mosaic of habitat types offers many different ecological niches for lemurs and other forest dwelling organisms. Knowledge on the environmental flexibility of lemurs is still in its infancy, but urgently needed for conservation management. Comparative studies in various sites deliver important tools to monitor and manage the biodiversity in tropical forests. Furthermore, they will help to understand the evolution of the unique species diversity of lemurs in Madagascar and the origin and evolution of our own primate ancestry.

 

The development of effective conservation measures for endangered species requires a detailed knowledge of remaining individual numbers, the distribution of species, their ecological requirements, and the factors causing potential threats to their survival. Moreover, it is important to understand the degree of intra-specific differentiation (e.g. phenotypic, ecological, genetic) that can be the result of rather recent (i.e. anthropogenic) or ancient evolutionary processes (e.g., barriers, landscape). We aim to understand the population structure of different lemur species in view of drastic anthropogenic disturbances. Ancient and recent processes of genetic differentiation shall be identified in order to develop effective conservation measures.


In a recent project, we study habitat loss and fragmentation in the context of past and future environmental changes, across taxa and regions mainly in Madagascar with an international team of researchers (see project INFRAGECO and respective link to project web-page).

 

      INFRAGECO

 

Marked climatic oscillations between glacial and interglacial periods had worldwide consequences for vegetation as well as animal population dynamics. The importance of these shallow-time (on geological and evolutionary timescales) geographic dynamics for shaping current biodiversity and biogeography patterns is increasingly stressed, although rarely analyzed in an innovative integrated manner. We aim to integrate records of vegetation and climate dynamics with inferred population dynamics to reconstruct the dynamics of forest landscapes and of populations of forest dwelling species over space and time in a primate model endemic to Madagascar.

apl. Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Radespiel

Research Projects

Members of working group

PhD/Doctoral students

 

Verena Schöler

Behavioural consequences and animal welfare implications of experimental housing conditions and vaccinations and infections with lyssaviruses in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)

 

Jennifer Brunke

Habitat fragmentation in a tropical rainforest ecosystem: a case study on the genetic diversity of small mammal communities in the lower Kinabatangan floodplain in Borneo (Sabah, Malaysia)

 

Annika Kollikowski

Olfactory discrimination learning in small nocturnal primates (Microcebus murinus and M. lehilahytsara)

 

Frederik Kiene

Effects of habitat fragmentation on parasite communities in mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) in northwestern Madagasca

 

Helena Teixeira

Reconstructing the past: demographic fluctuations in dynamics landscapes modelled for mouse lemurs in Madagascar.


Diploma- / Master- / Bachelorstudents

 

 

 

Associated doctoral students

 

Bertrand Andriatsitohaina

 

Dominik Schüssler

 

Malcolm Ramsay

 

 


Alumni

 

Rina Evasoa, PhD

Verena Schuldenzucker, PhD

Ulf Konietzke, Msc.

Hauke Henkel, Msc.

Selina Jeschke, BSc.

Sina Rilling, BSc.

Sharon Kessler, PhD

Svenja Gerberding, BSc.

Laura Heck, MSc.

Kathrin Schlegel, BSc.

Jennifer Wittkowski, MSc.

Sarah Hohenbrink, PhD

Dr. rer. nat. Philipp Hohenbrink

philipp.kappel@tiho-hannover.de

Johanne Kitzler, BSc

Jennifer Kosubek, MSc

Elena Steinmeier, BSc

Maren Koberstein-Schwarz, BSc

Katherina Bünemann, BSc

Dr. Lalandy Sehen

Sandra Thorén, PhD

Dr.rer.nat. Mathias Craul

Gillian Olivieri, PhD

Dr. vet.med. Franziska Quietzsch

Dr. Romule Rakotondravony

Dipl.Biol. Jan Dehne

Dinah Eßer, MSc

Dipl.Biol. Katja Guschanski

Dipl.Biol. Arite Heuck

Vivian Juerges, MSc

Dipl.Biol. Marina Juric

Dipl.Biol. Ina Leinweber

Dipl.Biol. Difei Li

Dipl.Biol. Philipp Mesecke

Dipl.Biol. Nicole Schneider

Dipl.Biol. Melanie Söhlke

Dipl.Biol. Pia Eichmüller

Dipl.Biol. Miriam Linnenbrink

Dipl. Biol. Dennis von der Wall

Christopher Meusel, BSc

Frank Roloff, BSc

Julia Haenel, BSc

Professional and scientific career

since 11.2009

Außerplanmäßige Professorin at the Institute of Zoology, TiHo Hannover

 

since 01.2006

Akademische Oberrätin at the Institute of Zoology, TiHo Hannover


06.2005

Habilitation at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (venia legendi: Zoology)


09.2002 - 12.2005

Akademische Rätin (tenure) at the Institute of Zoology, TiHo Hannover

 

12.2001 - 09.2002

Hochschulassistentin (C1) at the Institute of Zoology, TiHo Hannover

 

01.2000 - 11.2001 

Research fellow (Wiss. Mitarbeiterin) at the Institute of Zoology, TiHo Hannover

 

01.1999 - 12.1999

Post-doctoral fellowship at the Institute of Zoology, London and the Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff, U.K.

02.1998 - 12.1998

Research fellow at the Institute of Zoology, TiHo Hannover

 

05.1996 - 12.1998

Research assistant (Wiss. Mitarbeiterin) at the Institute of Zoology, TiHo Hannover

 

01.1995 - 04.1996

Research assistant at the German Primate Center, Göttingen

Education and further qualification

02.2008 - 02.2010

Participation in “Professional Teaching” (200 hrs, organized by: TiHo Hannover)

 

02.1998

Doctoral degree (Dr.rer.nat.) at the University of Hannover. Doctoral thesis: “Soziale Organisation des Grauen Mausmaki (Microcebus murinus)”

 

10.1985 - 04.1990

Studies of Biology (Diplom) at the Georg-August University of Göttingen. Diploma thesis: “Die räumlichen und sozialen Strukturen innerhalb einer Familie von Weissbüschelaffen (Callithrix jacchus ERXLEBEN 1777) unter dem experimentellen Einfluss der zeitweiligen Abwesenheit der Eltern

 

10.1983 - 09.1985

Studies of Biology (Diplom) at the University of Regensburg

Awards & grants

  • DFG-Sachbeihilfen (DFG RA 502/23-1, 2020-2023)
  • BMBF (INFRAGECO: 2017-2020)
  • DFG-Sachbeihilfen (DFG RA 502/20-1, 2017-2020)
  • Research grant by the VolkswagenStiftung (PhD grant; 2010-2013)
  • DFG-Sachbeihilfen (DFG RA 502/7-11, 2003-2011)
  • Research grant by BIOPAT e.V. (2008)
  • Research grant by the Bundesamt für Naturschutz (BfN) (2007)
  • Scientific exchange grant by the DAAD (2008-2009, 2011)
  • Scientific exchange grant by the VolkswagenStiftung (2006-2007)
  • Research grant by Conservation International (2002)
  • Post-doctoral scholarship by the DAAD (1999)

Publications

Contributions to books

Editorial board panel

  • International Journal of Primatology
  • Madagascar Conservation & Development
  • Primate Biology
  • Genes

Review for

Funding agencies

 

Leakey Foundation (USA), Primate Conservation Inc., European Union, The Leverhulme Trust (U.K.), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Austrian Science Fund, National Research Foundation (S. Africa), Research Fund of Netherlands

Professional journals

 

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Molecular Ecology, Madagascar Conservation & Development, Animal Behaviour, Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, American Journal of Primatology, International Journal of Primatology, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Journal of Zoology, Journal of Mammology, Ethology, Systematics & Biodiversity, Biological Conservation, Frontiers in Zoology, Endangered Species Research, Animal Conservation, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, BMC Evolutionary Biology, Conservation Genetics, Conservation Genetics Resources, Folia Primatologica, Mammalian Biology, PLoS One, Primate Conservation, Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B

Activities in scientific societies

2018 -

Secretary General of the Society for Tropical Ecology (gtö)

 

2014 - 2018

Member of the scientific board of the Society for Tropical Ecology (gtö)

 

01.2010 - 12.2013

Chair of the Gesellschaft für Primatologie e.V.


since 2006

Member of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group

 

2001 - 2005

Council member of the Gesellschaft für Primatologie e.V.

 

09.2000 - 12.2001

Council member of the European Federation of Primatology

Membership in scientific societies

  • Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft
  • Ethologische Gesellschaft
  • GERP (Groupe d’Étude et de recherche sur les primates de Madagascar)
  • Gesellschaft für Primatologie e. V.
  • Gesellschaft für Tropenökologie
  • International Primatological Society
  • IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group

Teaching and field trips

  • Seminar on "Current Aspects of Tropical Ecology"
  • Lecture and course on “Funktionsmorphologie der Tiere” (Winter term; BSc)
  • Lecture series “Verhaltensbiologie” (Summer term; Vet, BSc)
  • Lecture series “Verhaltensbiologie” (Winter term; BSc)
  • Lecture series „Biodiversity, Behaviour and Evolution“ (Winter term; MSc)
  • Course on "Behavioural Ecology“ (Summer term; BSc, MSc)
  • Course on “tropical ecology” – focus Madagascar or Borneo (every second year; BSc, MSc)
  • "Berufspraktikum Tropenökologie"
  • "VertiefungspraktikumTropenökologie" (BSc)
  • Forschungsmodul "Behavioural Ecology & Conservation Genetics" (MSc)


Opportunities for thesis work - academic research collaboration with Operation Wallacea, for details see here.

Kontakt
Tel.:+49 511 953-8430
Fax.:+49 511 953-8586
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