Scents of sex and death. An exploration of the chemosensory world of crayfish
Thomas Breithaupt research interest is driven by his fascination in the sensory world of aquatic animals, particularly the question of how animals extract and respond to environmental information. Starting out with an interest in the function of mechanoreceptors of crayfish, he discovered that crayfish and predatory fish can detect the eddies and turbulences in the wake of swimming fish and that these cues alone allow aquatic predators to track and catch their prey. Inspired by two postdoc years in the laboratory of Jelle Atema in the US, he went on to further explore the mechanisms of communication in crustaceans and found that decapod crustaceans including crayfish communicate with urinary signals and in this way can assess dominance and sexual receptivity of conspecifics. The research has been highlighted and discussed in the media many times. His co-edited book (with Martin Thiel) on Chemical Communication in Crustaceans is now a standard in Crustacean literature. Other achievements and awards include two research fellowships, membership in the Natural Environments Research Council’s peer review college, and being assistant editor of the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. He is Senior Lecturer at the University of Hull. His current research projects include international, interdisciplinary collaborations and focus on the effects of natural and anthropogenic stressors on crustacean sensory systems and behaviour.