Guinea pig research

Effects of dietary fatty acids

Current research in domestic guinea pigs focuses on the effects of dietary fatty acids on different physiological and behavioural aspects linked to the animals’ social system. Of major interest are age- and sex-specific effects of saturated and (omega-3 and omega-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids on physiological stress responses to different experimental social setups. Furthermore, influences on spatial cognition, reproductive performance, and juvenile development are investigated. The experiments and analyses are paralleled by (mainly non-invasive) measurements of steroid hormone concentrations (e.g. cortisol, estrogens, progesterone, testosterone) as indicators of individual endocrine states and as modulators of their physiological and behavioural performances. 

Energetics of reproduction, juvenile development, and social stress

We are interested on how guinea pigs, representing a highly social and precocial species, adapt physiologically and behaviourally to different energetically demanding and stressful situations and periods. This research topic therefore aims at measurements of the animal's energy balance (e.g. metabolic rate) during the female reproductive cycle (estrous cycle, gestation, lactation), juvenile development, and during social confrontations in order to establish a social system. 

Non-invasive characterization of cortisol responses

In order to promote the knowledge and validity of (non-invasive) cortisol measurements as indicators of physiological stress responses, we are investigating time-courses in cortisol concentrations in response to different stressors in the short- and long-term. 

Researchers: Matthias NemethEva Millesi & Bernard Wallner

in collaboration with Karl-Heinz Wagner (Department of Nutritional Sciences)