Titleimage: Community Ecology

We study animal communities in the field and in laboratory experiments. Currently, we investigate three main questions:

How do butterflies learn where they live?

Aim of this project is to investigate if the variable phenotypic responses we observe in grass-feeding Nymphalid butterflies to overcome adverse environmental conditions are triggered by epigenetic changes evoked in the individuals’ larval stages.

Do roads hinder butterfly movement?

We are studying the permeability of habitat edges for Erebia butterflies in Alpine habitats in communities where 11-15 species of this genus live sympatrically and specifically test if gravel roads are more permeable to butterflies than paved roads.

Does diet influence overwintering behavior in hamsters?

Common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) accumulate food stores for hibernation and show a high individual variation in patterns of torpor expression. In collaboration with our colleagues Eva Millesi and Carina Siutz from the University of Vienna, we are studying if these variations are related to the quantity and quality of the food the hamsters can store.