I study the flow of microbiota within social networks of wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) and Siberian flying squirrels (Pteromys volans). To achieve this, I'm involved with developing new RFID-based tracking and trapping technology to collect high-resolution gut microbial and behavioural data. In addition, I'm trying to shed light to how stress hormones shape gut flora and specifically disentangle the effects of social stress and social transmission on gut microbial communities.
I apply theories of community ecology to understand how patterns social transmission, interactions with host stress physiology and microbial intracommunity dynamics shape the cocktail of endosymbiotic bacteria and how these microbes in turn affect host fitness and social behaviour. My toolkit includes rubber boots, next-generation sequencing, social network analysis, RFID tagging technology and steroid hormone assays. Ideas of networks and connectedness haunt me in all fields of life: When not submerged science, I run a metaphor club and work as an installation artist illustrating network processes of life.