How do animals know where they are and where to go?
OUR RESEARCH GROUP
Having knowledge about where am I and where I would like to go is a major ability for any animal to survive. Insects, even though they only exhibit a tiny brain, show astonishing abilities in spatial orientation and compass navigation. In our group at the Zoology II at the Biocenter in Wuerzburg (Germany), we are interested in understanding compass orientation in insects. We use a variety of techniques, ranging from behavioral, neuroanatomical, to electrophysiological methods.
OUR MODEL ORGANISM
Every year in autumn, a certain generation of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) starts a long journey from North America to their overwintering habitats in Central Mexico. Even though these animals have never been to Central Mexico, they seem to know exactly how they reach the same trees that their ancestors have used for overwintering. How an animal, that has a brain that is even smaller than a grain of rice, is able to perform such a navigation over more than 4,000 km is one of the most enigmatic scientific questions.
OUR RESEARCH AIMS
Our research group aims at understanding the fundamental behavioral and neural mechanisms of the migration of the monarch butterflies. What kind of cues do they use, how do they combine these cues with other modalities, such as time-of-day-information, and how are these signals combined in their brain are central aspects of our study.
Dr. Basil el Jundi
University of Wuerzburg
Biocenter - Zoology II
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