Within species or populations individuals often differ conspicuously and consistently in their behavioral responses to environmental challenges. With respect to the adaptive value and evolution of behavior it seems of major importance to understand how such consistent individual differences in behavior emerge and how they can coexist. In my current research I am investigating how the early social environment an individual experiences during adolescence can contribute to the emergence of distinct behavioral profiles, using the zebra finch as an optimal model organism. Our first results reveal that zebra finches grown up under different densities vary in their courtship quantity and their level of aggressiveness towards same-sex conspecifics. To understand the physiological mechanisms that are responsible for the emergence of these behavioral differences I am combining behavioral observations with endocrinological and neuroanatomical methods.
Besides my main research interest mentioned above, I am fascinated by animal orientation skills as well as animal social learning abilities. Whenever there is time and enough (wo-) manpower around I try to set up experiments dealing with these topics.
- Ruploh, T., Schiffhauer, B., Bischof, H.J. (2012) Social Place Avoidance Learning in Zebra finches, In: Logic and Sensibility (editor: Watanabe, S.), pp. 39-49. Tokyo: Keio University Press.
- Ruploh T, Kazek† A, Bischof HJ: Spatial Orientation in Japanese Quails (Coturnix coturnix japanica). PLoS ONE 6(12): e28202. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028202 (2011)
- Keary N, Ruploh T, Voss J, Thalau P, Wiltschko R, Wiltschko W, Bischof HJ: Oscillating magnetic field disrupts magnetic orientation in Zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata. Frontiers in Zoology, 6:25. (2009)