Dr. Cornelia Voigt

PhD, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany

MSc, University of Bayreuth, Germany



University of Pretoria Research Fellow

Office: 2-52, Courtyard Annex, Zoology Building

Phone: +27 (0)12 420-4872

Email: [email protected]

Researcher ID: D-7156-2012

Neural and hormonal correlates of dominance rank in Damaraland mole rats

The broad scope of my research is to understand the proximate mechanisms of sex- and social status-related differences in vertebrate behaviour. Animals living in social groups establish dominance hierarchies, and one characteristic of cooperatively breeding species is that reproduction is skewed with the dominant individuals monopolizing breeding opportunities while the non-breeding group members serve as helpers. However, the proximate cues underlying this reproductive division of labour are not fully understood. In my current project I aim at investigating the endocrine and neural changes in relation to shifts in dominance rank in a highly social mammal, the Damaraland mole rat (Fukomys damarensis). This species represents an extreme example of socially induced infertility, in that reproduction is completely blocked in subordinate group members. This blockade results from an inhibition of ovulation, which is caused by a disruption in the normal gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion from the hypothalamus. As dominance rank of individuals is, however, not pre-determined, this model system allows for experimental manipulations of the reproductive status of individuals thereby elucidating the neuroendocrine mechanisms involved.


Published by Christopher Weldon

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