Sensory Ecology

Welcome to the Spaethe lab of sensory ecology. The field of sensory ecology aims to understand how organisms of all kinds obtain and use information about their environment. The sensory organs provide the only means of communication from the environment to the nervous system. Thus, the sensory systems of a species can be understood as a result of the interaction between the species and its specific environment in the course of evolution.

Our group is interested in the function, development and evolution of the visual system in insects. Using a comparative approach, we investigate the reception and neuronal processing of visual information and its evolution in various hymenopterans (bees, wasps, ants), but also in beetles (Glaphyridae), true bugs (Reduviidae) and butterflies (Papilionoidea). Further, we are interested in the function and evolution of visual signals in flower-pollinator interactions.


  • Mechanisms and evolution of visual perception
  • Psychophysics of colour vision
  • Visual learning and memory
  • Mechanisms and evolution of visual signals in flower-pollinator interaction


PD Dr. Johannes Spaethe

Dr. Frank Sommerlandt

PhD Students:
Leonie Lichtenstein

Master Students:
Chantal Diel