Myriam Franzke, MSc
Since I have started studying Biology, I am interested in the question of how complex behaviors are generated and controlled by the brain. During my bachelor thesis in the lab of Wolfgang Rössler, I worked on the desert ant Cataglyphis noda to understand the mechanisms underlying age-related polyethism. By injecting neuropeptides into the head capsule, I investigated the question of whether neuropeptides are involved in the ant’s task regulation. I continued with my master thesis in the same lab by combining behavioral experiments with neuroanatomy to further localize specific neuropeptides in the central brain of Cataglyphis noda and tested their influence on locomotor activity and phototaxis.
In my PhD project, I am now interested in how monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) orient during flight and which cues they use to set and keep a certain heading. I use a combination of indoor and outdoor behavioral experiments with migrating and non-migrating monarch butterflies. I furthermore aim to understand the neuroarchitecture of the compass network in the monarch butterfly brain that enables them to keep track of their heading.