Past Research Projects

Principal aim: (1) acquire insight in the role and mobility of the attachment, feeding and respiration apparatuses of these fishes, displaying a tremendous degree of convergent evolution in non-related taxa. (2) get a clear understanding of how these specialized structures perform.
Study object: Catfishes and carp-like fishes from South America, Africa and Asia (families Loricariidae, Astroblepidae, Mochokidae, Balitoridae, Gyrinocheilidae).
Methodology: high-speed and X-ray recordings, serial sectioning, dissections and clearing/staining methods, electromyography, 3D reconstructions, micro CT scanning, SEM, SEM-EDX, TEM.
Principal aim: establish discerning characters, validities and relationships of species, generate a family key to all species, providing morphological characters for a phylogenetic framework (no molecular data available).
Study object: freshwater catfishes from Africa (from West Africa up to Nile and Zambezi basins).
Methodology: metrics, meristics, osteology with CT scanning and dissections and clearing/staining methods, principal components analysis.
Principal aim: an anatomical study and 3D modeling of craniofacial defects in transgenic model organisms to investigate the role of cell adhesion-mediated signaling in craniogenesis.
Study object: model organisms: zebrafish (Danio rerio), frogs (Xenopus laevis) and mice (Mus musculus).
Methodology: serial sectioning, histology, CT-scanning, 3D reconstruction, dissections and clearing/staining.
Principal aim: establish a higher level phylogeny of the Anguilliformes based on head musculo-skeletal morphology.
Study object: anguilliform (eel-like) fishes from around the world (Anguilliformes).
Methodology: serial sectioning, 3D reconstruction, CT scanning, dissections and clearing/staining.
Principal aim: investigate to what degree the extreme morphological specialization of the feeding system in syngnathids has constrained its functional capacity.
Study object: seahorses and pipefishes from diverse phylogenetic clades and with different types of snout morphology.
Methodology: seserial histological sectioning, micro CT-scanning, graphical 3D reconstructing, dissecting, clearing and staining, biometrics, geometric morphometrics, immunohistochemistry and Finite Element Analysis.
Principal aim: establish phylogenetic interrelationships among Fukomys and Cryptomys species using a multidisciplinary approach (focus on Zambezian Fukomys taxa).
Study object: Afrotropical mole rats: Fukomys and Cryptomys.
Methodology: DNA sequence analyses (molecular phylogeny), karyotyping, geometrical morphometrical analysis of the cranium and the mandible, olfactory tests, bite performance analysis.
Principal aim: reveal the pattern of geographical variation in skull shape and size among populations of each studied species in the genus Meriones and to explore potential climatic correlates of skull morphology in the Meriones species and to interpret variation and the observed within- and between-species differences.
Study object: jirds, rodents that inhabit arid or semi-arid regions from Africa to China.
Methodology: digital imaging, landmark-based geometric morphometrics (GMM), MANOVA, relative warp analysis, UPGMA.
Principal aim: to unravel the causal link between beak design and its performance.
Study object: Java finch and Darwin's finches.
Methodology: serial sectioning, 3D reconstruction, CT scanning, dissections and clearing/staining.