Lara Keicher

IMPRS Doctoral Student
Department Wikelski
MPI of Animal Behavior
+49 7732 1501-70

Main Focus

Energetics of small mammals

I am particularly interested in the physiology and energy saving mechanisms of small mammals. They are challenged by resource fluctuations and environmental changes and adjust their behavior and physiological processes according to their demands during certain periods of their annual cycle.

In my PhD I focus on the yearly and daily energetics of the common noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula) in the region of Lake Constance. In this insectivorous species females perform long-distance migration and males are sedentary and the sexes have temporally shifted costs of reproduction. The design of the study allows me to collect data and calibrate expenditures in the lab and use these results to quantify energetic strategies of free-ranging animals during different seasons.

During my bachelor and master thesis I focused on Dehnel’s Phenomenon, which is a reduction and later regrowth of body mass, skull and several major organs including the brain. Dehnel’s Phenomenon is thought to be an energy saving strategy of small high-metabolic mammals and size extremes coincide with major life stages. I investigated sexual dimorphism in Sorex araneus, Mustela nivalis and M. erminea in context of Dehnel’s Phenomenon and conducted feeding experiments with stable carbon isotope analysis of the breath in S. araneus to calculate incorporation and fat turnover rates.

Curriculum Vitae

  • October 2011 - August 2014 Bachelor Student in Biological Sciences at the University of Constance, Bachelor Thesis: “Sex-based differences in Dehnel’s Phenomenon”
  • October 2014 - February 2017 Master Student in Biological Sciences with focus on Ecology and Evolution at the University of Constance, Master Thesis: “Energetics of the common shrew”
  • September - October 2015: Field assistant in the Mammal Research Institute in Bialowieza (Poland) under supervision of Karol Zub (“Energetics of Mustela nivalis”)
  • March 2017 - September 2017: Animal caretaker and vet assistance at the MPIO Radolfzell
  • October 2017 - August 2018: Employee in MaxCine (Outreach Center of the MPIO Radolfzell)
  • Since September 2018: PhD candidate at the MPIO under supervision of Dina Dechmann, Dissertation: “The Energetic year of the common noctule, Nyctalus noctula - Investigating sex-differences in strategies to deal with seasonally changing resource demands in European bats”
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